David Van Zwanenberg, a veterinarian and volunteer firefighter who assisted with relief efforts in Muriwai, North Island, New Zealand during Cyclone Gabrielle, passed away on February 14, 2023. His departure is deeply mourned. According to the report, a firefighter who was reported missing following Cyclone Gabrielle has been found dead, according to Fire and Emergency. Since a slip collapsed on Monday night and knocked over houses in Muriwai on Auckland’s west coast, firefighter Dave van Zwanenberg has gone missing.
“It is with great sadness that I confirm that it is our missing firefighter from the Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade,” Fire and Emergency chief executive Kerry Gregory said on Wednesday afternoon but did not name the person.
”My heart goes out to his family and to his friends and colleagues in the brigade. His death is being felt by our Fire and Emergency whānau right across the country.”
On all fire stations, the flags will fly at half-mast in remembrance of the fallen fireman. The family’s request that we not yet confirm the name of our deceased fireman is respected by Fire and Emergency.
Craig Stevens, a different firefighter, suffered a catastrophic injury in the accident. He remained in the hospital in a critical but stable condition. Stevens has served as a volunteer fireman for the Muriwai brigade since 2018, according to his LinkedIn page.
Fire and Emergency’s National Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) operations manager Craig Monrad said there were 100 USAR experts operating across the country. Monrad said the search for the missing firefighter had ceased on Tuesday night when it got dark but resumed again on Wednesday morning.
At the veterinary practice Vets North in Kume, Van Zwanenberg is a partner. When reached on Tuesday afternoon, Vets North partner Mark Young declined to comment other than to remark, “We’re simply devastated.”
Van Zwanenberg, a father of two, completed his education in the United Kingdom before relocating to New Zealand. Eva Mueller, who lives across the street from Motutara Road, reported being startled by a loud boom in the middle of the night. She stated, “Of course, we didn’t know what it was, but certainly it would have been that slip and trees and the house tumbling down.
She then got an emergency notification saying she and other residents should go to the local Surf Life Saving Club. “I walked down there and there [were] lots and lots of people there. Then we heard that several people lost their houses and everything and one fireman was [missing].
“It’s just so sad.” On Wednesday morning, Fire and Emergency’s head of Auckland and Northland response, Ron Devlin, said one of the organization’s biggest focuses was “the welfare of our people”. “We need to maintain their ability to respond.”
Delvin said that Fire and Emergency were “wrapping welfare around families” and that the Muriwai community fire station had been shut down. He added that they were being protected by the fire station in Titirangi and that the firefighters there were having a break and beginning to enter a healing space.
Dr. Stephanie Rotorangi, deputy national commander, reported that the number of calls nationwide remained consistent over the course of the night. Rotorangi said the conditions were “difficult” but was unable to provide an estimate of how many rescues Fire and Emergency had been involved in.
To avoid “spontaneous volunteering,” Rotorangi advised, community aid efforts should be appropriately organized with those in charge of the emergency response.
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