‘Gut-wrenching’: Gisborne couple remaining positive despite losing home
Gisborne resident June Moore has a particular summer's day before Cyclone Gabrielle etched vividly in her memory.
The Waimatā River on her back doorstep was calm and blue, the roses were in bloom and all was well on Vogel Street - a cul-de-sac home to a handful of houses just a stone's throw from town.
"I walked down the end of the deck, and it was a beautiful day - blue, blue sky," June recalls.
"I looked out there and said 'this is why we live where we live.'"
That was just days before Cyclone Gabrielle.
Now June and husband Bill are getting ready to move out of the house they've called home for decades after being labelled Category 3 on 24 June.
Under that classification, Gisborne District Council has deemed the risk of future severe weather events unable to be sufficiently mitigated at the address, meaning a voluntary buy-out will be offered in conjunction with the government.
June says six of the eight houses on Vogel Street are in the same boat and the future is uncertain.
But instead of feeling sorry about the situation, June is heaping praise on those who have come to their aid.
The day after being evacuated in Cyclone Gabrielle, the Moores were greeted by a group of builders who gifted their skills and resources to those in need.
Led by local builder Brendan Fry, the group volunteered their time to clear sections with diggers and help affected homeowners make sense of the mess.
"We have had exceptional service from complete strangers who just walked on to our property," June said.
"For three days they got stuck in and cleaned our section up, got into the downstairs and ripped up the carpet."
After that initial boost, 77-year-old Bill spent weeks on the end of a spade shovelling barrow-loads of silt.
They hadn't seen the last of the crew.
Before the rain events of last month which caused more flooding across the region, Bill reached out to Brendan who orchestrated the delivery of sandbags to protect windows and doors.
His team also helped the couple shift valuable items upstairs in case of further flooding.
Speaking to Local Democracy Reporting, Brendan said the group had assembled on the back of a hui following Cyclone Gabrielle where up to 15 certified builders met to discuss how they could best serve the community.
"It's just another day really. There's no heroism or anything, it's just to help the community out where we can," Fry said.
The Moores were originally hopeful they could stay on at their home, encouraged by an early verbal indication from the council, which sounded positive.
With the help of a builder they enlisted through Brendan's networks, and hours of their own time, they had returned their whare to its pre-cyclone state.
But the dream of seeing out their years at the property was shattered last month when they returned home from a morning excursion to find a group of council personnel, plus a government minister, on their street.
Council principal scientist Murry Cave peeled off from the group to share the bad news - they would be Category 3.
"It was pretty gut-wrenching on the day. The next morning after a good night's sleep I felt quite OK," Bill said.
"It is what it is, and you can't do much about it."
Meanwhile, the couple are so grateful for the support they've received, they have invited the volunteers around for "beer, buns and beef" tonight to show their appreciation.
"There are lots of bad stories but it's nice to hear some good ones," June said.
- Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air