Several facilities across Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, the regions which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s impact, have either shut-up shop completely, or are working at reduced capacity this week. Pan Pac Forest Products, which operates a mill next to the Esk River at Whirinaki, north of Napier, could remain closed for weeks after the site was inundated by floodwaters.
A preliminary assessment of the site found a small amount of physical damage, but considerable damage to electrical and mechanical equipment from water and silt. With more than 800 staff and contractors, Pan Pac is one of Hawke’s Bay’s largest employers, and has processed timber at the Whirinaki site since 1971.
In a post on the company’s Facebook page, managing director Tony Clifford said while Cyclone Gabrielle was a major disaster, Pan Pac had “been here before with flooding.” “We have very comprehensive insurance to cover plant damage and business continuity,” Clifford said.
The site remained closed this week to all but a few who were doing essential checks before the rebuild could begin. “But we will rebuild. We’ve been here 50 years, and we’re not going anywhere.”
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