Update From Stick, Cyclone Gabrielle
This past Monday night Cyclone Gabrielle smashed the North Island of New Zealand, causing widespread devastation. The worst hit area was the province of Hawkes Bay and the city of Napier. It just happens to be where I live.
Our city of 67,000 people has seen carnage. People have been killed and there’s a large number of people unaccounted for. Countless homes have been destroyed. An estimated 9,000 people have been displaced.
Roads and other infrastructure have been destroyed. There are 4 main routes in to our coastal city – heading north, north-west, south-west and south. So far, only the route south has been opened up. There is talk that the damage is so bad to the routes heading north and north-west that they might not reopen this year.
For a few days we were trapped on what felt like an island. We were connected to the rest of the country by land, but we could not get out. Despite being the fruit bowl of the North Island, food, fuel, gas and water were quickly in short supply.
We are now in our 6th day without power. The telephone system was out for a few days before being partially restored. For three days our only connection with the outside world was the radio, something it seems that many people no longer own.
We had no Internet access for 3 days.
Cellphone towers that had gone offline when the power went out were connected to generators, restoring our mobile network. And then some scum went around the cellphone towers and stole the generators, effectively disconnecting us all again.
The mobile phone system has been largely restored but Internet connections remain slow with huge demand on the cell towers as everyone uses mobile internet rather than their home’s fibre connection. It’s hard to do much of anything online, other than instant message or send email.
I’m not complaining. We are amongst the lucky ones. Our neighbourhood escaped unscathed, at least in terms of property damage. Others have suffered terribly.
My focus this week has been on looking after family, queuing at the supermarket for food and managing things on the home front. I have been out of touch with friends in Bangkok this week and am sorry to say there is no Stickman weekly column this week. The column will be back next week.
Thanks for your understanding.
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org