After adversity is when community comes together faster than ever. The adversity I refer to here is the tropical cyclone that hit New Zealand at the end of last week.
Some areas of New Zealand weren’t too badly hit, and I was fortunate to be in one of those areas, however, two places that suffered considerable damage are two places I also call home – Nelson and the West Coast of the South Island.
I realised the significance of the storm when I saw this video of the Boathouse in Nelson, being completely gutted from within by the Ocean coming up through the floorboards.
I started seeing photos of the West Coast roads half disappearing into the ocean; the beaches littered with debris and vast amounts of flooding.
It was heartbreaking seeing all of the images and videos of devastation, wanting to help out but not knowing how.
My heart suddenly dropped when I saw the images of Greymouth as I grew concerned about my 86 year old grandfather who lives alone. He answered the phone in his usual cheery tone and seemed somewhat surprised that I had called to check in. When I asked if he had suffered any damage, he answered my concern with the classic Coaster phrase “ah, she’ll be right!”
It was that classic Coaster attitude we started to see next. Instead of people sitting at home, worrying about the damage, they were getting out there and kicking into action. We saw on several West Coast facebook groups people were expressing their want to get out and volunteer their time to help with the clean-up efforts.
The Mayor of Greymouth, Tony Kokshoorn, shared this image of Blaketown beach on Thursday. We reached out to local emergency defence centres and asked how we could help. A call for volunteers went out, and the response was fantastic.
Casey Marie-Young commented on our facebook page “[it] was amazing the amount of people that came and joined.” She explained they cleared a significant amount of Cobden beach, and a trailer load of rubbish was removed. Marie-Young stated “[it] was amazing to see people pulling together to get shit done.”
Another person commented that she and her granddaughter went down to their local beach, and the team of two cleared the beach over two days.
We have received lots of feedback and messages like this. When I was a child, I heard someone say, “Out of tragedy comes something good.” I was astounded by their positivity and didn’t really understand it at the time. However, over the past couple of years I have witnessed out communities’ responses to natural disasters and now understand this sentiment. Although we don’t wish adversity on anyone, it is always amazing to see the good that comes out of it, and the community response.