A body has been found washed up on a Hawke’s Bay beach this evening.
Police confirmed a person was found on Bay View Beach, north of Napier, about 7.45pm.
Formal identification was yet to take place, police said, and the Coroner has been notified.
Authorities in Hawke’s Bay, meanwhile, are struggling to cope with Cyclone Gabrielle’s impacts as one town is left completely cut off without electricity or phone connections.
One person remained trapped in their home in Putorino following a slip.
Hastings and Napier have been isolated from one another because roads have been blocked by flooding and trees.
The region’s Civil Defence group has pleaded for support from the National Emergency Management Agency, saying: “The scale of the damage to infrastructure is beyond the capacity of the region to manage.”
Residents evacuated in Hawke's Bay as Cyclone Gabrielle caused flooding in the region. Photo / Paul Taylor
Up to a quarter of Wairoa, about 70km from either Napier or Gisborne, has flooded after the Wairoa River burst its banks.
Telecommunications have been severed, leaving the town’s phone lines and internet connections cut off following Gabrielle’s devastation.
The only available communication with anyone in Wairoa was by satellite phone, the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence said, and there were reports the whole town was without electricity.
The limited supplies of food and water in Wairoa were quickly running out - with the usual drinking water supply cut due to flooding.
Civil Defence asked Napier and Hastings residents to conserve water as well as reduce the impact on the wastewater network there.
Residents of Napier's Te Awa Avenue, numbers 210 to 274, were asked to evacuate their homes. Photo / Warren Buckland
All highways into Wairoa are closed because of slips and flooding.
Regional Civil Defence controller Iain Maxwell said Gabrielle’s impact was “yet to be fully understood and it is going to take some for all of the impacts to be remedied”.
About 16,000 could face “days or weeks” of darkness in Hastings and Napier after a serious grid issue there, Civil Defence said.
Ōmahu, Taradale and parts of Meeanee were evacuated after rivers there burst their banks. However, the alert to leave the latter two centres had since been lifted.
Several bridges remain impassable at Fernhill Bridge, Vicarage Rd, Waiohiki, Brookfields Bridge and the Esk Bridge north of the intersection between State Highways 2 and 5.
A number of residents along Links Road at Waiohiki, near Napier, were rescued via IRB and jet skis. Photo / Paul Taylor
Civil Defence said the Eskdale Valley was particularly hard hit and was extensively damaged, with evacuation orders and self-evacuations there and “a number of rescues”.
Earlier this evening, several RSE workers in Hastings trapped on roofs after being caught by heavy flooding were rescued after becoming stranded about 8am this morning.
A family member of one of the men trapped told the Herald the workers were unable to reach the emergency number because of a lack of cell service.
One of the trapped men, who wished to remain anonymous, took to Facebook to livestream his ordeal.
The man’s family said the home he was staying in was now completely underwater, and the occupants were all forced to swim to a nearby shed for safety.
Taradale Fire Brigade evacuated residents to Tamatea Intermediate school, Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor
In the video, more than a dozen people can be seen huddled under blankets, some using mattresses and sticks as makeshift canoes to attempt to get to safety and rescue others.
The family hadn’t been able to contact the man since 5pm, and believed his phone had died.
They had since been told by another source that the workers were rescued about 6.30pm, more than 10 hours after they first became trapped.
Earlier today, fire crews were faced with a similar problem at Ōmarunui Rd, in Hastings, but found it difficult to get through due to high floodwaters. A chopper rescue was also prevented because of heavy winds.
The Pacific workers are here as part of the Recognised Seasonal Employment programme, and live and work in the Mr Apple Kinross orchard.
Orchard workers take cover as floodwaters rise in Hawke's Bay. Photo / Photo / Lie Tu'imoala
It is unknown at this stage if the people in the above video are connected to this group.
The latter group could be seen floating around the area on mattresses and a mini fridge, keeping a watchful eye on the rising waters.
It is understood they have now been rescued.
Auckland Tongan community leader Pakilau Manase Lua told Stuff a rescue mission began about 3.30pm after the group of about 20 workers had been stranded for six hours.
He said they were flown in groups of twos and threes to Fernhill before being taken to an evacuation centre.
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