3 Mar 2023

Couple plead for Pakowhai area to be red-zoned after losing everything in cyclone

12:00 pm on 3 March 2023
Wayne and Lynn Simpson's home in Pakowhai, pictured before the flood brought by Cyclone Gabrielle, with a circle showing the tip of roof that remained above the water where the couple and guests waited for rescue.

Wayne and Lynn Simpson's home in Pakowhai, pictured during Cyclone Gabrielle, marking the tip of roof that remained above the water where the couple and guests waited for rescue. Photo: Supplied / Wayne and Lynn Simpson

A resident of Pakowhai near Hastings says parts of the area are totally unsafe and must be red-zoned.

Wayne and Lynn Simpson lived in Pakowhai.

When Cyclone Gabrielle smashed into Hawke's Bay floodwaters overcame protections on two nearby rivers.

It covered their home, accommodation business, vehicles, livestock and fruit trees in metres of contaminated floodwater.

They watched as their livestock drowned in front of them.

He and his guests smashed through the roof of their two-storey shed to escape, and they were taken to safety in rescue boats and by Defence Force helicopter.

"The future for that area should be red zoned to the point where no one can inhabit that area ever again," Wayne Simpson said.

"No one should be allowed to live on that flood plain."

"There's no amount of stopbank repairs and things that are going to make that area safe."

Simpson said everything they owned had been contaminated by toxic silt and sludge.

"There is no repair, salvage; 1000 percent - it is all gone."

He said they have had no help from officials, and interactions with the insurance company had been infuriating - asking him to draft a list of all their damaged possessions and take photographs.

"I hit the roof and exploded. And because I said 'you want me to do all this off my memory'?

"We've been back to the property and quite frankly, psychologically, I never want to go back."

He said he had been having nightmares. People were at their wits' end and the government had been useless.

The government and the Cyclone Recovery Taskforce headed by Sir Brian Roche aimed to give desperate flood victims some certainty about whether they could rebuild within a month.

Miserable conditions in Pakowhai today. Local Paul Anderson on Gilbertson Rd says rain is one thing, but if the wind gets up, he fears the wet-rooted apple trees strung together on frames could topple over domino-like, pulling each other over.

Many properties at Pakowhai were badly damaged by flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo: RNZ / Phil Pennington

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