According to New Zealand officials, Cyclone Gabrielle, which has devastated the North Island with significant flooding and landslides, has killed at least four people, including a child.
A child's body was discovered in Hawke's Bay, one of the worst-affected areas, on Wednesday, according to officials.
There, rescue helicopters rescued about 300 people who were trapped on rooftops. .
Although the cyclone has left New Zealand, about 10,500 people were still without homes as of Wednesday.
In addition, "several people are missing for whom the police do hold grave concerns," according to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday night. ".
While the majority of the country is no longer experiencing rain, many isolated towns and areas are still cut off due to high floodwaters and a lack of electricity.
The largest weather event to affect New Zealand in the previous century, according to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, was Gabrielle. At least a third of the five million people living there are expected to be impacted.
The North Island's far north and east coast coastal communities have been hardest hit by the storm's damage, with Hawke's Bay, Coromandel, and Northland among the worst affected.
Authorities were particularly concerned about the situation in Hawke's Bay, a well-known tourist destination with some far-flung towns, according to Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty.
Residents of Hawke's Bay had been forced to swim through bedroom windows as the water level rose as the cyclone made landfall on Monday night.
Occasionally, the second story of the homes where people were being rescued was submerged by floodwaters, according to a military spokesperson.
There have been at least three fatalities nearby. Authorities reported that a woman was killed in a landslide at her home and that a second body was discovered on the shore. According to the police, the youngster was caught in rising water.
Also discovered on Tuesday was the body of a missing firefighter who had been caught in a landslide west of Auckland.
It wouldn't be surprising, according to Mr. McAnulty on Wednesday, if the death toll increased further.
He praised the "phenomenal" work of the rescuers in Hawke's Bay who pulled "about 300 people from rooftops," including 60 from a sizable structure marooned by floodwaters.
Even though electricity had been restored to 80,000 homes on the island by Wednesday, more than 140,000 people were still without it.
In order to avoid shortages, residents in hard-hit areas are also being urged to use less water and food.
In order to streamline its response to the disaster, New Zealand declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday.
Only twice before, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, has the nation proclaimed a national state of emergency.
Climate change has been blamed for the disaster's size by New Zealand's climate minister.
According to James Shaw, "the severity of it [is] obviously made worse by the fact that our global temperatures have already increased by 1.1 degrees.
We must stop using justifications for our inaction. We can't bury our heads in the sand on a flooded beach. Action is required immediately. ".
Just two weeks after the same area experienced record rainfall and flooding, Cyclone Gabrielle made landfall on New Zealand's North Island. In those floods, there were four fatalities.