Cyclone Gabrielle: Gisborne businesses begin to reopen but with water restrictions

By Kate Green for RNZ

Businesses in Gisborne have been given clarity on which can open under the current post-Cyclone Gabrielle water restrictions, and what rules they must follow.

Many have begun to open up, as cellular and data connectivity returned to the region but strict water restrictions remained in place.

The pipe network to and from the Waingake plant was broken in multiple places, and the council warned the smaller Waipaoa plant would struggle to keep up with demand, and would be prone to failure because of silt in the water.

The council said earlier this week it had spoken to large water users like fruit and vegetable growers, major food producers and car washers, who were told they could not use the mains water supply.

It asked people to only use water for drinking, short showers and food preparation.

Civil Defence controller Ben Green on Sunday said residents would need to keep restricting their use of water for at least another two days.

Essential businesses like rest homes, hospitals, laundromats, cafes, and hotels could open.

However, they needed to have water reduction strategies in place, and to be able to explain them when asked by council staff.

Moderate water users like bars, dine-in restaurants, hairdressers and dog washers could not operate using the mains water supply.

For example hairdressers could do haircuts, but not wash hair.

If the water crisis worsened, laundromats and food business would be asked to shut, unless they could operate without using water, Green said.

Alerts from the National Emergency Management Agency (19 February)

  • Keep up to date with advice from your local CDEM Group or from
  • Floodwaters may be full of sewage, chemicals and other hazardous materials and should be avoided as much as possible
  • Floodwater can carry bacteria that can contaminate food
  • Protect yourself when cleaning up flood water and mud by wearing a properly fitted P2- or N95-rated mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and gumboots or work shoes
  • Throw away all food and drinking water that has come in contact with floodwater
  • Do not eat garden produce if the soil has been flooded
  • In power outages use torches instead of candles, and only use camp cookers and BBQs outdoors.
  • Conserve water where you are advised to
  • Check the location of pipes and cables before you dig; see Chorus' Before You Dig website and for all utilities
  • The best way to assist in the response is through financial donations and NOT through donated goods.


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