Cyclone Gabrielle: Seasonal workers among Napier residents forced to flee as evacuations continue

Many seasonal workers were among those forced to the Centennial Park Evacuation Centre in Napier, after being rescued from flooded orchards on Tuesday.

They joined thousands of other Napier residents forced to flee as the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle took its toll.

Families waded through flood waters, along with their pets and whatever they could carry.

Some paddled through streets that now resemble rivers, as others got out on blow-up rafts.

It was an exodus of the vulnerable, but the water just kept on coming.

"We've got kids stuck there, elderly stuck up there," one resident told Newshub. "We're not getting much help, we're going on foot to try and rescue our people."

The suburb of Taradale was evacuated after the Tūtaekurī River breached its stopbank. The Redcliffe substation sits there and was flooded, leaving Hawke's Bay battling power outages.

Transpower said assessments are underway in the hope of bypassing it to continue restoring power to the region.

But while efforts are being made to restore normality, evacuations continue. 

On Wednesday, residents of Te Awa Avenue and surrounding areas were forced from their homes.

Pak'NSave Napier was open for residents, but the queue was around the block and left them facing a long wait just for the bare essentials.

"[We've been here for] close to 40-45 minutes," said one man waiting.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise said food, water and fuel supplies are among the primary concerns in the coming days.

"We have been talking to Civil Defence about ensuring we get some emergency food supplies and water supplies through to us," she told Newshub.

"I've been advised there is a navy ship on standby should we need them."

The city's main evacuation centre is now sheltering hundreds of people.

Among them, Tafai Malioka, one of the 30 seasonal workers as the flood waters rapidly rose on Tuesday.

"We had lunch, the flood was coming and I saw the water," he told Newshub. "It was really fast and quick.

"I talked to my boss, [he said] 'get a little bit of food, take your clothes and you get ready to go'.

"It was a big problem yesterday. We were on a roof, and stayed on for about two and a half hours.

"It was really lucky. We were rescued by a helicopter."

They were trapped for two hours, with no way of calling for help. Somehow, someone published a live stream to Facebook.

His family in Samoa saw the live stream, and spent the night with no word if help had come or if he and his co-workers had survived.

Like most people in Napier, communication has been cut off.

"My wife rang me this morning," he continued. "They saw me and the other boys."

Around 300 workers were brought to the Centennial Hall evacuation centre. They were in another centre, but it too threatened to flood. 

The flooding is so widespread, in southern Napier, a woman in Waiohiki sent Newshub footage of her home flooding - complete devastation.

Further south in central Hawke's Bay, Waipukurau, Waipawa and Ōtāne were all cut off from a freshwater supply.

Locals in the township of Pōrangahau filmed in disbelief as their evacuations were undertaken.

For now, all locals can do is hang out and hope for better days to come.