Cyclone Gabrielle: Eskdale residents send desperate plea to emergency officials

Residents of Eskdale in Hawke's Bay have made a desperate plea to emergency officials - they need help now. 

Homes, orchards and the main highway linking the area to Napier have been destroyed. 

Homes were inundated with silt and completely unlivable, cars were flipped, and orchards and livelihoods were destroyed. 

"It's just total destruction. There are so many people that are out of their homes. It's heartbreaking. People have lost their lives," said Aaron Stafford, Eskdale resident:

Stafford is an Eskdale local. He and others have been doing what they can to clear roads and clean up. 

"[Our message to central government is] help us. I'm sure it's coming which is good but we need it, and we need it now."

It was early on Tuesday morning when the Esk River burst its banks and barrelled through everything in its path. 

The power of the deluge that ripped through the area was extraordinary it upended railway lines and knocked out large sections of highway.

Eskdale resident Trish Marshall has lost everything and barely made it out of her house alive. 

"Someone said it was like two tsunamis. There was one and then a second. And it was fast."

Marshall was pulled through the flood waters by neighbours in raging 2-metre-high waters. She credits them with saving her life. Without them, she said she and her husband would be "just a statistic".

She told Newshub her home is a "write-off". 

"Forty-seven-year-old cedar home. Our windows were blown out, the furniture is gone. The house is full of silt and mud."

An insurmountable loss - just one of many communities in Hawke's Bay that are literally faced with starting all again.