Cyclone Gabrielle: Anxiety sets in for Gisborne residents with phone lines down and food shortages

Anxiety is setting in for Gisborne residents as they struggle after days of poor communication and food shortages.

There are queues almost everywhere with locals waiting, hoping and trying to get cash out.

"The ATMs worked once and it hasn't worked again since," one local told Newshub.

After six hours of sitting and standing the police arrive to help out.

"The ATM [has] not come back on at two o'clock," a local told Newshub.

It's news that nobody wants to hear. With most phone and internet services out of action, people need cash for food and fuel. 

Some people waiting to get cash out told Newshub they are struggling to get by.

"We are all struggling. The biggest thing is you can't get money, hours waiting in line PAK'nSAVE for kai. Whatever kai is left, well there's nothing," one person said.

Another told Newshub "they say cash is king, well there's some truth to that".

The region only has patchy and unreliable phone coverage and frustrations are growing.

"Sort it out Spark," one person said.

COVID-like queues covered the Council's lawn as people waited for their 10 minutes of free Wi-Fi.

Many are yet to contact family and friends. 

Several people spoke to Newshub to give 'shout outs' to the people they couldn't contact.

"Shout to my family, hope they are okay," one person said.

Another person said "my kids, miss talking to you guys. All the family here everyone is safe and well".

"Hey, Rami. I'm fine, I'll try to get over next week," a third person said.

"I want to tell my family, my sister Michelle and my stepdaughter Maddy and my friends in Wellington that we are all okay. The garden [is] munted. The house is okay and we're okay," resident Louise Carlyle told Newshub.

"Is that you Mike? How are you? Happy birthday anyway," another local said.

While people waited to reconnect, there was plenty of work to do.

As the cleanup begins, a problem emerging is the mountains of mud that have washed down the rivers. They can't just be pushed down into the river - instead, the council has to pick them.

Another problem is the kayak club in the same area doesn't have any insurance.

"The kayak club's not [insured] because it became too expensive and small clubs couldn't afford it, so yeah we're up shit creek," Olympic rower Alan Thompson told Newshub.

Being up 'shit creek' is a feeling that many share.

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