Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports due to canceled flights, while around 225,000 New Zealanders were left without power, Reuters reports. “The severity and scale of the damage we are seeing has not been seen in the country for a generation,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told a news conference on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, Gabriel moved southeast from Auckland, near the east coast of the country’s North Island, and is expected to continue southeast, parallel to the coast. Storm warnings remain in place for much of the east coast of the North Island and upper South Island.
As dozens of supermarkets closed, Hipkins urged New Zealanders not to panic and stock up. Authorities have evacuated beach communities and are urging more people to leave their homes as rivers continue to fill and huge waves flood coastal areas.
Most highways in New Zealand are closed, cell phones are offline and some towns are cut off from the outside world. People in hard-hit areas are urged to conserve water and food for fear of shortages.
No fatalities were reported, however, according to local media, one person went missing after their house slid down a hill in Hawkes Bay.
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