National Emergency Declared After Cyclone Tears Through New Zealand

New Zealand was struck by a Category 3 cyclone yesterday.

  • Cyclone Gabrielle swept through the Northland region with winds up to 87 mph.
  • It flooded buildings, tore up roads, bent street lights, and uprooted trees.
  • Many had to evacuate to higher ground due to flooding.
  • Around 225,000 homes have lost power.
  • Flights have been canceled and over 30 state highways shut down.

It has been a big night for New Zealanders across the country, but particularly in the upper North Island … a lot of families displaced, a lot of homes without power, extensive damage done across the country.
—Chris Hipkins, New Zealand prime minister

Hipkins declared a national emergency, which has only been done twice before in the nation’s history. This gives local authorities greater power to restrict travel and provide aid to the affected areas.

More rain and high winds are forecast as the cyclone moves southeast, potentially affecting the upper South Island as well.

This disaster comes on the heels of four people dying in a major flood that hit Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, two weeks ago.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw gave a speech in Parliament following the cyclone, stating:

I don’t think I’ve ever felt as sad or as angry about the lost decades that we spent bickering and arguing about whether climate change was real or not, whether it was caused by humans or not, whether it was bad or not, whether we should do something about it or not, because it is clearly here now, and if we do not act, it will get worse. We need to stop making excuses for inaction.

Other world leaders are following suit, blaming the cyclone on climate change. But is that the real cause for these increasingly frequent natural disasters? Read Why ‘Natural’ Disasters? and “Why Did God Allow the Earthquake?” to learn more.