• Video: Remembering the effort to save animals during Cyclone Gabrielle

Video: Remembering the effort to save animals during Cyclone Gabrielle

A temporary animal evacuation centre set up in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle a year ago saved many animals including cats, dogs, chickens, pigeons and even goldfish.

When the severity of the flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle became known, Charitable Trust Helping You Help Animals (HUHANZ) sprang into action, setting up a shelter at the Hastings Racecourse.

A year on, speaking to Hawke’s Bay App at a Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Tomoana Showgrounds last Sunday, the founder of HUHANZ, Carolyn Press-McKenzie said her team was deployed from Wellington to help evacuating and sheltering animals.

“So our response was building a temporary animal evacuation shelter at the Hastings Racecourse. And I think over the course of a month, I mean, we helped a lot of families. We helped them rebuild in their homes so that they could take their pets home with them. But for those who couldn't take their pets straight home or didn't have anywhere to take them to, we housed about 150 animals there over the period.”

“We had everything. Mainly cats and dogs, but we also had some goldfish, and we had chickens and pigeons. And just really any animals that needed support, we were happy to

Press-McKenzie says that it was a scary time for everyone.

“A lot of the dogs that came to us, the owners had been helicoptered away, not even knowing if their animals had made it. So we had a lot of very emotional reunions where the owners suddenly found out that the pets were with us.”

“And the animals definitely were desperate to see their families. But we kept them safe, we kept them enriched, and we loved them as best we could until the families were ready to take them again.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Carolyn Press-McKenzie