20 Feb 2018

Cyclone Gita: 'Falling over themselves to help each other'

1:25 pm on 20 February 2018

One West Coast resident who has just finished mopping up after cyclone Fehi said her community was banding together as another approaches.

The weather in Granity on the West Coast.

Granity on the West Coast. Photo: RNZ/Rebekah Parsons-King

Granity School teacher Penny Madden said her home, 10m from the beach, had been significantly damaged by Fehi.

"The waves obviously came through the ranch slider out the back.

"There was sea water through the house, some trees took out the side of the garage and that collapsed.

"My clothes-line is now on a 45 degree angle.

"It looks like a bomb has been through, really. Just sand and stones where gardens used to be" she said.

Ms Madden said she used to have a lot of trees in front of her section, but over the years, coastal erosion has washed them away.

"Erosion has been a big factor over the past two to five years I suppose, before that it wasn't really that noticeable.

"But now where the low tide sits, is where high tide used to be, tides are a lot higher than they were", she said.

The community has worked with the regional council to install some protection, but that hasn't been successful, Ms Madden said.

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"I've emptied my downstairs lounge area, which is most exposed to the beach.

"Everything I can move has gone to the front of the house or upstairs and everything I can move outside that was lying around has also been moved."

Granity School is one of 40 in the lower North Island and Upper South Island that have been closed today, along with 17 early-learning centres.

Penny Madden said the school was closed last time because of problems getting children home after the usual buses were cancelled.

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