Paul Anderson is trying to save three family homes in the Hawke’s Bay settlement of Pakowhai. Photo / RNZ / Phil Pennington
Paul Anderson is standing in the rain, crying.
“I lost all my pets,” he said.
His family have lived for decades in three houses in a row – his 89-year-old mother next to his sister and himself. They are in “orchard central” on Gilligan Rd in Pakowhai, north of Hastings.
Water came over the roofs of the three homes during the floods caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and Anderson is trying to save the properties.
He hopes, according to what the council had told him, that by waterblasting the exposed framing inside they would not need to be demolished.
“I built the place 41 years ago. It’s my home,” Anderson said.
“I lost all my pets, I lost all my belongings, but I don’t want to lose that as well.”
He had five shih tzu dogs and a cat.
“They were in my mum’s shed to keep them safe from the rain.”
Anderson said water had never previously got into the houses, not even during Cyclone Bola.
This time, in five minutes, the water went from shoelace height to four metres deep, he said.
“There were cows swimming over the top of my roof.
“My son rescued RSE workers from down the end … on his jet ski, and he came past here to see if my dogs would be all right, but …”
Anderson found them later.
“I have all their bodies, I have the cat’s body, and they are all at the vets being cremated at a very cheap price.”
He stopped, choked.
A truck driver who leases out the 23ha orchard, Anderson described himself as “an emotional person anyway”.
The rain kept falling. Over by the car, outside his house, his family had the hatch up and were eating lunch from it.
“They [the pets] will come with me,” he resumed.
“They’ll be all boxed, with their names on them and they’ll come with me.
“And that was done at a fraction of what it should have been, with generosity.
“There’s been so much generosity shown to us. We just can’t thank the people of Hawke’s Bay … and I’ve got guys coming here from Auckland and Wellington to help me now … They said they didn’t have an idea what it was like.”