When the cyclone had been and gone and the freezer was slowly defrosting due to the power outage, Sandra Caccioppoli ventured out to do the best thing she could in the circumstances – cook lamb chops and carry on.
The BBQ was a godsend, and the chops went down a treat with Sandra and her husband Bryan’s neighbours in their quiet cul-de-sac at Princess Alexandra in Napier.
They’ve lived in their village home for four years and the benefits of living in a close-knit community were obvious when Cyclone Gabrielle arrived.
“We were fine because we felt very safe in the village. The staff did a great job of checking on us and we could go to the village centre for hot water, to watch TV and we also got a hot lunch.
“I definitely think it is a good place to be. Having the support of the village and our neighbours means a lot.’’
The support is not a one-way street with Sandra. She offered to billet village staff who needed a bed during the recovery, and she was cooking for others.
“I felt really that was the least we could do after everything they did for us.’’
The other reassurance was for their family.
“My daughter wasn’t worried because she knew we’d be safe in the village. I was more worried about her.’’
Once the storm had passed another advantage to village life was support with the recovery.
Sandra and Bryan really felt the benefits of living in a close-knit community after the cyclone hit.
Staff came around to take away any rubbish and defrosted waste from the freezer, and otherwise life was pretty much back to normal.
Living in a village meant any repairs from storm damage were Ryman’s responsibility – another advantage.
“If the roof leaks that’s not our problem – someone will come and fix it.’’
While life in the village goes on, the tough part for Napier residents is seeing the devastation Gabrielle caused to their beloved region.
“We've been out on our bikes to have a look around and seeing the power of the cyclone and the devastation that it left behind was an eerie feeling,’’ Sandra said.