11 dead and thousands missing: What's happening in the wake of New Zealand's Cyclone Gabrielle.

Two-year-old Ivy Collins was being carried by her pregnant mother when she was swept away by floodwaters in New Zealand last Tuesday.

That morning, her parents, Jack and Ella Collins, who is pregnant with their third child, woke at 3am to find water filling their one-storey home in Eskdale, Hawke's Bay, following Cyclone Gabrielle.

"They were trying to come up with a plan, they had a few minutes, trying to get the dogs inside, organise the pets, and then this wave came through which added to the water in the house quite significantly, sort of halfway up the walls," Jack's brother, Adam, told the New Zealand Herald.

With the water rising, the couple grabbed Ivy and her older sister Imogen, taking one child each on their shoulders, and tried to make their way to their neighbour's roof when a wave knocked Ella over. 

Scrambling to the house, Jack managed to place Imogen on the roof, before going back and searching for Ivy and his wife. 

"He finds his wife floating around and manages to get her back to safety... but by that time they'd lost the little one," said Adam. 

"There's nothing they could've done... she had her on her shoulders and she slipped out, her feet were taken out from underneath."

Jack spent hours in the dark trying to find his daughter, but two-year-old Ivy was nowhere to be found. 

Eight hours later, the family, who were "hypothermic", were rescued along with their neighbours. 


Ivy, who's been remembered as a "beautiful little cherub", was found the next day. 

Collins told the publication his brother was a hero, saying, "We are all so proud of how he responded we have no doubt that all five of them are still here today because of the way he responded." 

Ella later confirmed her daughter's death in a post on Facebook. 

"Our youngest daughter Ivy has drowned and died in the flash flooding, she was almost two-and-a-half, it was an unavoidable accident and she died very quickly," she wrote.

"We were unable to make it to higher ground due to a sudden torrent of water which almost drowned us all and took Ivy."

"Jack is the only reason that he, myself, Imogen and our neighbours survived. He is a literal f***ing hero."

Sadly, Ivy isn't the only one who has lost their life in the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.

That same day and in the same area, mother and two-time breast cancer survivor Susane Caccioppoli, died after being swept away by floodwaters when house-sitting with her boyfriend.

Police found her body later on Tuesday night.

Her daughter, Bianka-Lee Bryan, confirmed her death in a post on Facebook, where she remebered Susane as a "devoted and protective mother, oma, daughter and sister, with so much love to give".


"Mum was a cheerful, welcoming, and kind constant in our lives, available to everyone at anytime for a coffee, a chat and a laugh," she wrote. 

Image: Facebook@biankalee.caccioppoli

The night before, father and firefighter Dave Van Zwanenberg was killed when he was carrying out a rescue operation with his colleague Craig Stevens in Muriwai Beach, north-west of Auckland, on Monday. 


Van Zwanenberg became trapped in a house after another property collapsed on top of it and was later found dead. Stevens was rushed to hospital in a critical condition where he died on Thursday. 

In a statement, Van Zwanenberg's wife, Amy, said he had been trying to "help his community" that night. 

"Reliability and dependability were his core values, whatever the weather. Dave was blessed with the unique abilities so few possess, to not only survive but thrive in extreme environments and circumstances, performing complex tasks and caring for others calmly under pressure," she wrote in the statement, according to RNZ.

Amy said her husband will be remembered for "his good humour, his authentic care, his astronomic intelligence and supreme competence at pretty much anything he turned his hand too".

David Van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens. Image: Givealittle.


As the death toll rises and the search for survivors continues, here's what everything we know about Cyclone Gabrielle.

What's happening in New Zealand right now. 

Cyclone Gabrielle hit the uppermost region of New Zealand's North Island on Sunday, February 12 and tracked down the east coast, inundating homes and causing widespread devastation.

The cyclone, which Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster this century, brought severe gales of up to 160km/h and 48-hour rainfall totals equivalent to an average summer in many areas. 

As a result, homes have been left flooded and without power, while businesses and infrastructure have been destroyed. 

On Tuesday, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty declared a National State of Emergency in the country, which has only been declared on two previous occasions - the magnitude-6.3 earthquake in Christchurch in 2011 and the COVID-19 pandemic. 


"This is a significant disaster, with a real threat to the lives of New Zealanders," he told reporters.

So far, 11 people have died and thousands remain missing, with rescue and recovery teams hard at work visiting properties to account for people.

As of Monday morning, New Zealand Police Commissioner Andy Coster said police had received roughly 6,500 reports of missing New Zealanders, with 4,000 confirmed as safe.

Coster - who expects the death toll to increase further - said police had "a lot of volunteer help" to visit addresses when phone inquiries failed to find missing people.

As cleanup efforts get underway, power is gradually being restored, with around 28,000 houses back on the grid, down from the peak of over 225,000 earlier in the week.

Union Group chief executive Ken Sutherland said he expected Napier to have its power restored by Tuesday but regional areas might have to wait "weeks".

"There is quite extensive damage. You've got trees in lines, you've got flooding, you've got access issues, so this is a long game," Sutherland said, according to news outlet Stuff.


The Waiohiki bridge over the Tutaekuri River is washed away on February 14, 2023 in Napier. Image: Kerry Marshall/Getty.


Houses in Waiohiki are flooded on February 14, 2023 in Napier. Image: Kerry Marshall/Getty.


A photo of a damaged car on February 17, 2023 in Gisborne. Image: Phil Yeo/Getty.


Homes and belongings destroyed in the cleanup of Cyclone Gabrielle on February 17, 2023 in Gisborne. Image: Phil Yeo/Getty.

An international response. 

The storm has brought offers of international assistance, with Australia leading the charge.

A 27-strong Australian impact assessment team have landed in New Zealand; 25 in Hawke's Bay and two in Wellington's national coordination centre.


The prime minister said the Australian defence force had offered to send a Hercules C-130 aircraft and logistics team, and environmental health staff.

Australia and the United States have also provided "crucial satellite imagery products of the affected areas".

How you can help. 

A number of organisations are accepting donations to directly support those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Here are just a few you can donate to:


A Givealittle page has been set up for the Collins family, following the loss of two-year-old Ivy. Over $240,000 has been raised at the time of publication. 

A Givealittle page has also been set up for David Van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens, which has raised over $180,000 at the time of publication. 

New Zealand Red Cross.

New Zealand Red Cross has launched a disaster fund to raise money for those impacted by the cyclone and to assist those impacted by the next emergency they face. 

You can find out more and donate here.

Women's Refuge New Zealand.

Women's Refuge New Zealand, an organisation that supports women and children experiencing family violence, are calling for people to make a one-off donation to support those affected by the cyclone. 

"Our knowledge of what so often follows a natural disaster of this kind means that we also fear that many more women and children will potentially reach out for our services. All of us, including refuges and their staff, will face immense challenges in the coming months as restoring communities is not a simple task," Dr Ang Jury ONZM, Chief Executive, Women's Refuge, wrote in a statement on Instagram. 


You can find out more and donate here.

Feature Image: Facebook@ella.molloy