"This post is not the perspective of Council, or of iwi, or of any government entity. I'm writing this entry as a woman, as a mother, as an aunty, as a sister, and as a person who lives in a rural East Coast Community.

We were prepared for Cyclone Gabrielle. We knew what to expect and we knew to prepare. We'd had a taste of flooding, power outages, and a total loss of connectivity through Cyclone Hale. The rural communities from Potaka to Whangara braced ourselves for what we knew would be a rocky ride. It was more than that.

Broken Bridge 600750

Photo courtesy: Hiko Media House

We had barely running creeks turn to raging rivers, we had banks breach, roads flood and slip away, we had bridges decimated, and we had whanau flee to marae turned evacuation centers.

We spent days painstakingly checking every household, accounting for every person, every child, and in some cases we looked for beloved pets. Local Civil Defence efforts rallied together and coordinated welfare, search and rescue, operational tasks and problem solved issues while our city counterparts, and our relations in Wairoa, the Hawkes Bay and our brothers and sisters in Te Karaka faced their own crisis.

Our road network is twisted and jumbled, it is broken and dangerous, and it has cut us off from one and another when we need each other the most. This is a test of wills, of patience and of resilience.

Diggers 600

Photo courtesy: Hiko Media House

There has been an outpouring of love, support, resources and food that has come from generous hands from all over New Zealand, our iwi, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou leaped into action immediately and our taurahere comendered choppers, trucks and trailers and chartered our local plane Air Ruatoria to get our isolated communities the things we needed most.

Ruatoria Sports Club 600400

Photo courtesy: Hiko Media House

The control center at Civil Defence Base at the Gisborne District Council had its many eyes and arms reaching and far and wide as they would for weeks on end. Leaning heavily and trusting in our local Civil Defence Efforts.

I'm writing this 3 weeks after Cyclone Gabrielle, a second flood, and the potential of another brewing on the horizon. We look forward to the day we can be reconnected with our loved ones in Gisborne, we look forward to the day we can sit in the heart of Te Karaka and mourn, that we can hold the hands of our whanau in Muriwai and Manutuke, the day we can all look each other in the eye and know we made it, we survived it, together.

I have cried every day since the storm. It is a loss so significant I see it in the faces of our pakeke, I see confusion in our children and babies, and I feel anxiety radiating off my peers. There is hope and that is what keeps us going. One day, it'll be a story we tell. For now, we just need to get through it."

Rawinia Parata: GDC Councillor