Cyclone Gabrielle 18th Feb 2023
Four days later - the sun shone brightly and we were allowed to go to the Lodge for an hour. We managed to get as many of the Lodge 'people' as possible together for our escorted convoy up the cordoned-off Motutara Road. We were accompanied by a geotech team, council building and compliance inspectors, St John ambulance personnel and 'watchers' with air horns who scrutinised the slipped slopes across from the Lodge for any signs of movement. We were told - 'if the air horn sounds run!'...no need to tell us to run down the road - up the road was completely blocked by debris (little did we know on 16 February that the road would not reopen until 21 August!). We were all in shock but where possible people gathered what they could - we managed to get neighbours' undamaged cars returned to them (the only undamaged possessions they had - their home was completely destroyed and strewn across the northern part of the Lodge site and the road; our guests in Cabin 1, who had been evacuated on the night, were able to get back in time to get their belongings from their undamaged Cabin and collect their undamaged rental car. There were lots of hugs and lots of tears and then we had to leave, While we had raced around trying to choose what we needed (we learned to plan ahead and always go to 'managed access' with a list) the geo-tech team debated what the site's placard status should be - would we be red, yellow or white. This was new, none of us knew what the coloured 'stickers' meant and for a while the site was red, then part of it (the undamaged part) went white and then the whole site went red...for the first time (and not the last) we were bewildered by the council process. We left not knowing when we would be allowed back and regretting the choices we had made about what to take with us. Sad and heartbroken at the damage to and destruction of our beloved place and the loss of the precious lives of our brave firefighters who had died saving our neighbours.