Cyclone Gabrielle has hit New Zealand farmers hard, some have lost everything. Some apple growers has just started the harvest and the orchards were full of trees with apples waiting to be harvested, many have nothing left.
"The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle has been immense. We continue to focus on the wellbeing of our members, their families and staff as our number one priority," said Anna Lambourne, Member Engagement Manager, New Zealand Apples and Pears.
"The damage to the pipfruit sector varies in severity across Hawkes Bay and Tairawhiti. The New Zealand Apples and Pears team is assessing the full extent of the damage and whilst this will take some time, it is obvious that in some areas growers have lost absolutely everything - their orchards, their infrastructure and their homes. They have nothing left. Other growing areas in the region have been less affected, and a number unaffected. These areas will continue to harvest and pack their fruit for export and local market over the coming weeks, with picking already underway for early maturing varieties.
"Many RSE staff have been displaced after flood waters affected their accommodation. They are now settled into temporary accommodation and are being supported by local welfare teams and church groups and communities. RSE groups will move to permanent accommodation as infrastructure comes back online.
"Our industry is resilient, we are a community, and we will rally together to share our equipment and our teams with those in need, to recover and harvest our crops."
Gareth Edgecombe, Chief Executive, T&G Global:
“Our priority right now is the safety and welfare of our people, RSE team and growers, many of whom had to be evacuated. The Cyclone has significantly impacted the region with flooding, power and phone outages, and damage to roads and bridges. When it is safe to do so, we will begin to evaluate the impact of the Cyclone on our orchards, post-harvest facilities and partner growers.”
Statement from Mr Apple:
"We are still very early in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and with little to no power / cell phone connectivity the priority has been on the safety and well being of people. Apple assessments will be done in the coming week."
Jerf van Beek's business, Riverside Cherries:
Hawke's Bay growers are pleading with the government for a recovery package after Cyclone Gabrielle turned vast swathes of fertile land into pulp.
Jerf's business, was flattened by a torrent of water from the raging Ngaruroro River, which burst its banks and tore through growing operations near Hastings on Tuesday.
"So we've got 14 hectares of apples here and we've got another seven hectares of cherries and the apples are all flat on the ground or washed out, completely gone. There's only green grass left and the irrigation pipes sticking out of the ground," he told www.rnz.co.nz
"There's a mountain of apple trees behind me but there's far more, I don't know where they are. They've just gone down the road and with the force of the river they've just been taken away."
The cherries will probably grow again. However, in the meantime, Riverside Cherries has no income and will need to start the apple operation from scratch, costing millions.
"Nothing to salvage, absolutely nothing. We've just got to get bulldozers in, put it in one big heap and burn it and then we'll have a bare paddock and then we need to start again," van Beek said.
In Twyford, north-west of Hastings today, the extent of damage was clear - flattened trees and fences and fruit everywhere - on the roads and in the ditches.