Tongan RSE workers climb rooftops to escape Cyclone Gabrielle flooding

Tongan Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme workers’ accommodations in Hastings have been badly hit by flooding shortly after severe tropical cyclone Gabrielle struck the New Zealand’s region on Monday.

A live streamed video showed several men apparently in an orchard in the Hawke’s Bay region, standing on their roof as torrents of floodwater tear through dorms and orchard below.

Lie Tu’imoala who posted the livestream footage to Facebook said in Tongan the rain was ongoing and the weather was increasingly cold.

Vehicles could be seen floating and inundated with water.

Some of the workers could be seen using mattresses and a mini fridge to make their way around between the houses submerged in floodwaters.

Some of the men were visibly traumatised while some could be seen shivering and trembling apparently by the cold weather.

However, there was still banter and laughter with some enjoyed smoking cigarettes throughout the ordeal.

You can watch the livestream video here: (1) Facebook

Fire crews are understood to be working to get to the scene at Ōmarunui Rd, in Hastings, but are struggling to get through due to high floodwaters.

Kaniva News could not be able to verify the authenticity of the video.

Power outages, fallen trees and road closures are affecting the region in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Residents of one of Napier’s largest suburbs have been told to “evacuate immediately” as flooding in Hawke’s Bay continues to worsen.

“But many are questioning how to evacuate to safety with multiple bridges closed across the region. Residents are also taking to social media to ask about rescue efforts in affected areas, saying they have been unable to contact loved ones in flood zones for hours”, the NZ Herald reported.

A State of Emergency has been extended to the entirety of the Hawke’s Bay region as evacuations take place in every district and city due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

About 10am Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence called for Taradale and Omahu residents to “evacuate immediately”.

Not only has the region been hit with heavy flooding, but power, phone coverage, and internet are down or patchy in most areas.

Transpower NZ have lost supply of electricity which has affected all of Napier and some of Hastings this morning.

Many locals are also without cellphone coverage or mobile data due to damaged lines.

Chorus said two fibre lines are damaged in the eastern part of the North Island – the Taupo to Napier line and one running across the north of the region. This is affecting mobile coverage in the Hawke’s Bay region for all providers on top of the power situation, said Telecommunications Forum spokesman Paul Brislen.

“Teams are working to locate the fault or faults on the line but this work is hampered both by the weather and by access to the lines. Staff safety is of paramount concern in such situations so the teams will be proceeding carefully.

“Customers are advised to keep their mobile devices charged if possible and minimise their use for non-essential communications. Calls to 111 are prioritised across the mobile networks so if you have coverage, even from another provider, you should be able to make an emergency call.”

Posts on social media shows some areas have been hit so hard by flooding that water has reached the roof lines of a number of buildings.

One video shows orchard workers perched on the roofs of the buildings with the water mere centimetres below.

The orchard is on the banks of the Tutaekuri River in Hawke’s Bay

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