Twenty-four hours was all it took to generate the worst destruction Kevin Martin had ever seen in his many years of farming.
A day of wind and heavy rain, with the worst of it occurring on the morning of Tuesday, February 14.
The farmer, who has about 1300 acres roughly 10 kilometres from the village of Pongaroa, said his property sustained quite a bit of damage from slips which also buried fences.
He was at the property when Cyclone Gabrielle began its path of destruction down the eastern side of the North Island.
Like many other farmers in the coastal communities, and others along the catchment of the Manawatū River, Martin’s property took the brunt of the heavy rain.
“It was the worst we’ve ever had by a mile.”
He remained philosophical about the damage to his farm, adding that there had been orchards in Hawke’s Bay that had lost a lot more.
Martin was among many of the locals who went along to the Cyclone Shout at Pongaroa at the weekend, taking the opportunity to meet up with others in similar situations.
The shout was organised after it was decided the Pongaroa Village Fair couldn’t go ahead last month.
The event included plenty of activities for children and a chance for the locals to get some time away from the farm, have a bite to eat or just share a few yarns.
Pongaroa resident and one of the organisers, Heather Monk, said the timing was right for it, as many of the farmers who had been dealing with the effects of the cyclone had begun to reach their limits.
As the coastal residents worked to clear up some of the damage to their properties, they were now having to rethink how they do things, such as getting their stock to market without trucks.
“The planning you have for your farm is now out the window,” Monk said.
Which meant having to make new plans and work out other ways to get things done, even if that meant reverting to older ways.
Life was certainly made more difficult for many residents in Ākitio with the closure of Marainanga Gorge.
Monk said residents were now having to use River Road if driving from Dannevirke or Pongaroa, which could add more time to their journey.
“It’s the uncertainty of that piece of road,” she said.
But most of those in the rural community just get on with the job of picking up the pieces, knowing that there was always going to be something else for them to deal with.
“There’s always something that happens,” Monk said, particularly for farmers.
She said the one thing the cyclone had reinforced was the need for people to be prepared to be on their own for three days, and most of them were.
Food was plentiful, but what many lacked was power and avenues for communication – something they would need to be aware of in the future for whatever else came along.
“We’re learning from it.”