Like many, The Y was hit by the severe flooding over Auckland Anniversary weekend - our Cameron Pool team did an incredible job to re-open after only a few days after severe flooding destroyed flooring, carpets, equipment and damaged the swimming pool infrastructure, some of which is still under repair. In Hunua, the Camp Adair team repeatedly checked the weather forecasts, but thankfully the camp grounds were spared.
Unfortunately, this luck ran out during Cyclone Gabrielle. Despite extensive prevention - some of which, such as clearing kilometres of willow trees from the river, has spanned years, plus moving as much to higher ground as possible, the camp was hit by the full force of the Wairoa river, which, in the words of one long-term team member 'rose faster and harder than I had ever seen before'.
We have a two-step alarm system in place, which gives staff living onsite advance notice of any flood risk, and we had cancelled the planned school camps ahead of time so that no school children would be at risk. Thanks to these plans, everyone safely evacuated to the local Civil Defence evacuation site, joined overnight by some unlucky drivers trapped on the roads.
Once we could return, we were met with a sight of extreme destruction. Our beloved bridge, the location of so many iconic photos, was destroyed, equipment was found tangled in distant fences along with tree branches and debris, the coolstore was swept up and smashed into another building, the wastewater facility was severely damaged, there were many landslips, and there was no power or running water. The camp had no choice but to close until further notice.
See some pictures of the morning after Cyclone Gabrielle here:
Once the floodwaters receded, it left behind a thick layer of mud and silt throughout camp cabins, offices, meeting halls and homes. A huge cleanup job lay ahead - and The Y sprang into action - the camp team and the local community all got stuck in with tractors, chainsaws, mops, and brooms, helped by colleagues from the rest of The Y pitching in to help clean, water blast (the CEO showed off his previously hidden talents here), organise temporary replacement housing or turning up with gratefully received food and drink (home baking, Subway and Dunkin Donuts were particularly popular, and bottled water was a hot commodity). The camp and surrounds began to be repaired and thoroughly inspected by experts to make sure it was safe to re-open, from checking the integrity of the high ropes course to making sure the toilets were functioning.
Despite the level of destruction, thanks to our amazing team, led by Dave Lockwood, the camp was able to open and be fully functional for school camps after just three weeks. However, Gabrielle has left a lasting legacy, with some repairs still in progress.
The last few years have shown the tenacity and resilience of The Y team, and the flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle again showed us how well we respond to unexpected challenges. We'd like to extend a huge thank you to all of the staff and our wider community who stepped in to support each other, make sure our facilities were safe, and repair and rebuild from this extreme weather.