Relief (for some of us)

The entrance to Hohepa Hawkes Bay (at Clive). I hope the animals are all right.

Today is Tuesday, February 14, 2023. Kia ora!

In Russia, all Americans have been asked to leave urgently, and other Americans have been warned not to go there. Why, one wonders? Is there a new threat? Maybe that was old news, since I haven’t seen it confirmed anywhere.  Well, I later heard it confirmed on the Telegraph’s daily podcast, Ukraine the Latest.  So I’ll stick with it.

Last night we watched the final episode of season 3 of Happy Valley, starring the rather wonderful Sarah Lancashire, James Norton (as the villain), and Rhys Cannon, amongst others.  This series can be hard to watch: I have to say this episode wasn’t as difficult as some previous ones. I’m rather sorry it’s finished, of course, since the anticipation has gone. Still, I can always watch it again on TVNZ On demand.

I just got a message from Hōhepa Hawkes Bay to say that everyone is safe and well; but I still wonder about my daughter’s house. I should like to hear that they all got away all right. I get another message saying she’s been evacuated up to Poraiti, so that’s good. I know she’ll be well cared for. The Manager there found a former staff member to communicate with family members, someone who’s moved to somewhere the power’s still on.

I have been rereading The View in Winter by Ronald Blythe.  It’s such an interesting read!  It strikes me now that the younger generation don’t need us to teach them our skills: everything’s changed, especially parenting! I was a good mother too, just different. I admit I do wonder sometimes about the current adoration of the requisite two children; we are blessed to have had five, and while each one was special, there are certain blessings in having a larger family where there’s built-in caring for younger children, there’s always someone to play with, and you eat whatever’s put on the table!

The book tells about the fear of the workhouse, and the enormous benefit when the old-age pension became a universal benefit.  Some children are very close to their parents; they tend to be some daughters; but parents all have some independent income, in the form of superannuation, and there is a social safety net to care for older folk at the state’s expense, if necessary. Whatever qualms and quibbles we may have about the care provided, at least it is provided; the best way to ensure good care, in my view, is for the recipient to be popular, and for other family members to take an interest and help out and say thanks wherever possible. After all, I (or long-suffering members of my family) would be caring for my daughter if there weren’t a social safety net.

It’s now Wednesday February 15th.

I slept really well last night, not waking till 7:15 am. That’s quite a feat for me.  In Wellington it’s really calm, it’s not raining, and while it’s overcast, we don’t have the low threatening clouds that we had yesterday.  Hymn singing and a movie viewing, both popular activities, have been cancelled, perhaps unnecessarily. It would be good to see others; on the other hand, I’m still reeling from the devastation in Hawkes Bay.

This morning I learn that people have been rescued from roofs in Hawkes Bay; these rescues were tricky for Defence Force helicopters, but they could be done since the wind gusts have dropped.  Meanwhile, two bodies have been found: someone who died when their house fell on them, and a person on the beach. Last night we learnt that a flood bank had broken, in the Te Awa Drive area, and people living nearby were ordered to evacuate. Meanwhile, there’s no power, some roads are unusable, and the main highway SH 51 between Napier and Clive has been closed. This morning I get a message from a former staff member saying everyone from Hōhepa Hawkes Bay is safe; however, the power has not been restored yet. For some folk this is really trying, to have their routine disrupted; for others, it’s an adventure (albeit one without coffee).

In the aftermath of the dreadful earthquakes in Turkey and northern Syria, where victims are still being pulled alive out of the rubble, there is significant criticism of Turkey’s President Erdoğan, for the lack of a meaningful response to the crisis. Lax building standards on a known fault line are partly to blame, but Erdoğan has had several builders arrested! HIs other meaningful response was along the lines that Stuff happens, and it’s all part of the divine plan. I’m sure the lack of care and compassion is not part of any divine plan. As if arrests of builders will fix the problem. The current death toll stands at nearly 38,000.

Returning to Napier, where those of us with loved ones there are coming to terms with the grief and loss of so much, and the present difficulties of just existing, with no power.  They can’t boil their water, since most of them have no power. Petrol stations use electricity to power their pumps, so filling up your car too often isn’t really an option. Apparently one supermarket has internet, and people are queueing up to use it. Who can blame them? The police have set up a lost and found register, so that those worried about their loved ones can register their concern.  I am desperately afraid that there’ll be water-born diseases, since they can’t boil their water, or refrigerate their food.

It’s now 7:41 pm and I’m trying to catch up with the flood rescue news. Then there was a really strong earthquake!  Initial reports put it at 6.0 on the Richter scale, at a depth of 76 km, 50 km northwest of Paraparaumu. It felt quite strong, and seemed to go on for ages. Later it was described as a 6.3 earthquake, with a severe jolt at first, and then strong shaking that seemed to go on for ages – about 30 seconds, someone said. There seems to be no immediate damage, but it was a bit scary, especially as we are already very concerned about the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne/Tairāwhiti situations.

Prime Minister Hipkins joked that he’s now expecting a plague of locusts,

It’s now Thursday February 16th.

I slept quite well again last night, thankfully. We watched Another Year on Te Whakaata Māori – quite a depressing movie, but with the rather wonderful Lesley Manville playing the distressed Mary.  Tom and Gerri are a lovely couple, and very kind, but why oh why are their friends such deadbeats?  Towards the end Gerri says that she really needs to look after her family; it’s obvious to me that Mary really wants to be part of her family too.

This morning I listened to the latest episode of The Rest is Politics podcast. How informative it is! It’s like a summary of The Economist, that is oral, and that I can understand. For example, the situation in Moldova was explained. I found that really helpful. Also, election results are interesting, too. Last night I heard that Nicola Sturgeon, the “wee lassie”, has resigned as Scottish First Minister. Obviously the podcast was recorded before news of this came through. It certainly seems sudden. I was interested to hear Alistair Campbell saying a certain politician has no shame!  He was a bit of a “bête noir” himself, as I recall. Sturgeon is now being called charismatic, but English journalists were quite prepared to give her a very hard time over Brexit. JD and I were in Glasgow for our son’s graduation at the time of the 2016 referendum. I well remember the almost universal shock at the result, especially in Scotland, and how British journalists gave Sturgeon a really hard time. Now they’re saying she was rather wonderful!

I try to listen to the Telegraph podcast Ukraine, the Latest, each weekday. The war in Ukraine is incredibly brutal; it’s being compared to the newly released remake of All Quiet on the Western Front (now on Netflix), s very powerful movie showing what trench warfare was really like, and lots of needless deaths as men are thrown into the “meatgrinder”. The Wagner Group have a very cynical attitude as prisoners are thrown into the fray to see where Ukrainian fire might be coming from.

It was a very busy morning. JD had an early appointment, and I had several phone calls, including a lovely surprise when our youngest son rang from England.  On my way to Thursday morning singing, I had a text from a staff member at my daughter’s house. She confirmed that while the power is still off, the house where my daughter lives is still habitable, undamaged by flood waters, and my daughter has moved back there. Her obs are all good, so that’s a relief too. I later had more texts from her about a bridge being opened to allow her to get to this house, but it’s now been closed again and the sleep-over couldn’t get to work there.

I also get an update from a Hōhepa staff member who lives in Hawkes Bay, so they are getting back to some kind of normality.  The iconic site at Clive is not badly damaged, although the road to it, S.H. 51 is intermittently closed. Although I’m so relieved that my daughter is all right, and her house is habitable, there are many terribly sad stories of people having lost everything – their homes, their livelihoods, their precious things, and in some cases their animals.

The death toll is rising, sadly.  On Wednesday evening someone reported seeing a dead body floating away with the floodwaters, and expecting to see more.  We fear and expect more deaths, although it’s wonderful to know that our daughter is safe and also a staff member I was very concerned about, since she was trapped by floodwaters on Tuesday morning. The photos are just devastating.

It’s now Friday February 17th.

This morning I woke early around 5 am and then went back to sleep until 9:15! That’s a little late for me, and although I should feel better for having more sleep, I don’t feel that it’s done me much good, although it’s a relief, to be sure.

Today it becomes fine and sunny again, and warmer than it has been. Someone comes from Access to do some housework, and I’m truly grateful for that – it seems ages since she came.

There has been very little mention in overseas media of the catastrophic effects of Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand, mainly dreadful flooding and slips,  with many roads closed and bridges down as rivers rose and breached their banks. People in Gisborne have been asked not to use the water!  That’s really bad if you don’t have power as well. The catastrophe has been covered by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, on television in Taiwan, and by ABC News; Lady Colin Campbell has mentioned it in her Youtube broadcast this morning.  But Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation hasn’t even made The Rest is Politics question time podcast! Why not, I wonder?

In Ukraine, bitter fighting continues. Is Putin arranging a new wave of attacks to commemorate the Russian invasion on February 24 last year? Who knows. Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said Russia was a mystery wrapped in an enigma? The Ukrainians continue to fight bravely; Russian forces doggedly attack, although they’re said to be incurring heavy losses for any progress they make, and their equipment is somewhat out of date.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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