I’m just writing to share an update about how our people have fared in the terrible weather over the last few weeks, particularly Cyclone Gabrielle.
In short, all of our people are OK. This is more important than anything else. Shop operations are returning to normal in most places, but with the damage to many homes, it will take a long time for the communities to recover. Still, we will keep doing what we can as a company and as individual community members to help the people around us.
Five of our shops were affected by the cyclone. Grange Warkworth and Silverdale – in the north of Auckland – suffered heavy flooding, power cuts and internet outages during the worst of the rain. Staff had difficulty getting home the day the cyclone hit, but were all OK. The damage was ultimately minimal, and the shops were able to reopen after just one day closed.
As you will know, the storm damage in Hawke’s Bay was severe, particularly in and around Napier. Taradale, where several of our staff live, was evacuated, with some of our st¯f spending the night at an evacuation centre. However, everyone was fine and their houses undamaged. Once the rain eased, the Hawke’s Bay St. Pierre’s team swung into action. The power was on at the Hastings shop, but the two Napier shops (Carlyle Street and Onekawa) were without power for some time.
This meant the ingredients would soon be wasted. With no phone reception, it was difficult for managers to check on their staff, but Takashi and Francisco did the best they could to distribute food and check on their teams. Hastings manager Hiromi – who lives in Napier – also got some ingredients from Napier and took them back to the Hastings fridge. After cleaning on Friday, Hastings shop reopened on Saturday, but with deliveries disrupted, regular operation was not possible, so the decision was made to make sushi and distribute it to people in need.
Hiromi and his team made a total of about 170 rolls on Sunday, taking 40 rolls to a local evacuation centre, 30 to a food hub in Hastings, and 100 to Pakowhai Road, one of the most devastated areas. A few days earlier, people had been rescued by helicopter off house rooves there, but by Sunday the cleanup and salvage work was underway. Simply wanting to provide some encouragement, Hiromi stopped by every house and handed out one pack of sushi per person. It was just a token gesture, but well appreciated by the locals working to rebuild their lifestyles.
In terms of support from head office, our team has been working hard to resume deliveries so that the shops can reopen. All three Hawke’s Bay were up and running by Friday 24th February and ready to serve their communities again. All staff wages lost due to the shop closures are being covered by head office, and we are working to provide whatever other support we can to our staff and their broader community.
In short, it has been a terrible few weeks for many people around NZ, but the way that people have pulled together and supported each other has been heartening to see. Few parts of NZ have been spared by this disaster, so please keep helping the people around you however you can, which we will continue to do also.
Please stay strong for each other.