Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
As the heavy downpour eases up in the city of Auckland, a lot of the focus now shifts onto the recovery work being done within the community.
With the floods affecting most parts of the city, evacuation centres were set up across the affected areas including West Auckland.
Valeria Gascoigne of Kelston Community Hub was one of the first few people to raise her hand to help at the evacuation centre.
“It’s important for our community and government agencies to remain calm. Because if we’re calm, then the families are feeling a bit more comforted” Gascoigne said.
Kelston Community Hub alongside other services have been aiding out to those affected by the flooding.
Gascoigne and her team have been responsible for cooking and distributing meals throughout the evacuation centre.
For many of those seeking shelter at the evacuation centres, their homes and belongings have been damaged by the floods.
It’s one of the many reasons why Gascoigne is calling for the community to unite together as one.
“People are feeling unsure on what each day looks like, so it’s really for us as a community to band together to make sure all the families are looked after.”
Despite the floods affecting the spirits of the community, it did not stop the overflow of food, goods and more being donated to the centre.
Shopping bags and boxes filled the headquarters of the centre, as people dropped off countless supplies to those affected.
Aside from the governing agencies on site to help, there were also extra services included such as a mobile laundry service and coffee truck.
Also on site were rugby legends Aiolupotea Ofisa Junior Tonu’u, Saveatama Eroni Clarke and La’auli Michael Jones. The three joined forces with those volunteering, helping out in whatever way they could.
“Obviously after the impact of the flooding, the feeling here at this evac centre, we’re seeing a spirit of unity,” mentions Saveatama.
There is feelings of despair, but there’s also a feeling of hope.”
As for La’auli, the aftermath of the flooding last weekend became a moment of truth for not just him but for the leaders of the country.
“We’re very grateful to our honourable deputy Prime Minister. Having Carmel as the MP for here in Kelston, she’s been on the ground here since the very first minute,” La’auli says.
We are very grateful for her leadership”.
Aiolupotea echoed the same thoughts, praising the leaders and organisers behind the community evacuation centre. However there is hope that such services and assistance will continue on for future natural disasters.
“There is also a need post, after all this is finished that the help and support is still going to be there” Aiolupotea said.
“We are going to continue reaching out to the churches and people that are able to help. It is really important for people to reach out when they need help.”
As the rebuild and recovery begins for houses and belongings, leaders and organisers of the West Auckland evacuation centre have called for people needing help to come through.
Gascoigne adds, “If you’re unsure, there is always here. We’ve had a lot of people come and there is so much support here.”