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Evacuations underway in sodden Tairāwhiti

Thursday 4 November 2021

IRB boats are being used to help evacuate residents in parts of Gisborne from flooded homes as part of a districtwide civil defence emergency response.

A local state of emergency was declared at 2pm today with some areas receiving more than 200mm of rain in the past 24 hours. Three welfare centres have been established at Wainui School Hall, the Salvation Army and the House of Breakthrough, with Te Poho o Rawiri Marae on standby.

Portaloos have been delivered to Sponge Bay, one of the worst affected areas where many roads are now closed and the power is being shut off.

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence group controller Dave Wilson is urging people to stay home. “There is a problem with rubberneckers, particularly around Sponge Bay and we really ask that everyone restrict their travel,” said Mr Wilson.

“Treat all surface water as contaminated.”

Council were forced to open the scours last night when the systems became overloaded.

Parts of Kaiti and Fergusson Drive are also under water, with sandbagging underway in low-lying areas.

Residents along the Taruheru River are being asked to prepare to evacuate as the tide rises.

There are slips on East Cape Road and also Makarori Hill but both still have a single lane open for traffic. Anaura Bay is completely cut off.

Civil Defence are watching river levels closely. The customer service centre has taken more than 600 calls since 8am this morning, from worried residents. Police are asking people to take care on the roads. “There is a lot of surface water out there and people need to drive to the conditions,” says Inspector Sam Aberahama. “If everyone slows down, we will all get to where we want to get to safely.”

The CDEM Emergency Coordination Centre is in full swing with all emergency services in attendance and working together to ensure the community are safe.

Keep an eye on the Council website and the Council and CDEM Gisborne Facebook pages for the latest of information.

“Anyone needing help shouldn’t hesitate to call us and we can link them with the appropriate services.”