Flash Flood 7 Jan 2023 banner image

Have a plan, be prepared as Cyclone Hale approaches

Monday January 9, 2023

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence and Emergency Manager Ben Green is asking residents to be prepared and check on their neighbours as more heavy rain, gale-force winds and storm surges are forecast for this region tomorrow.

Ex-tropical Cyclone Hale is tracking towards Tairāwhiti with between 130mm to 180mm of rain and four to six-metre waves expected.

“We have been watching this Cyclone since last week. MetService has issued a heavy rain warning from 8pm tonight until 11pm tomorrow night.”

Mr Green says the heavy rain forecast will bring more flash floods.

“We are asking people to be prepared, delay travel and stay off the roads if you can.

“With the amount of rain we’ve had, the land is saturated and there could be slips around the region.

“We ask everyone to please check their properties and look for any cracks in the ground if you’re on a steep section.”

Campers are being encouraged to consider leaving especially if they are by the coast.

Council will close the unsealed roading network to all heavy freight vehicles from 8pm tonight for 24 hours.

Forestry companies have also blocked access to private roads with their staff checking sites over the weekend for slips and slash.

Contractors have also been unblocking culverts ahead of the cyclone.

Many residents were impacted by the short-duration high-intensity rainfall on Saturday night when 37.5mm of rain fell in 45 minutes on Gisborne around 8pm.

Mr Green says there was no warning about the deluge until 20 minutes beforehand when two weather cells suddenly merged.

“With the impending arrival of ex-tropical Cyclone Hale it’s important for residents to have a plan in case they need to evacuate.

“Please let us know if anyone needs help.

“We want to be clear that these types of events, high intensity and short duration rainfall, will increase with the onset of climate change.”

Council 4 Waters Operation Manager Chris Hopman says pipes and infrastructure have a limited capacity to cope with the sheer volume of rain that falls during these weather events.

“Our primary drainage systems are just not able to cope. Secondary flow paths have been developed using roads and natural landforms. Our overall focus is to ensure no floors in habitable dwellings are inundated. However, some garages may flood.

“Surface flooding on Saturday night was because our stormwater system has not been designed for this intensity of rainfall.”

On Saturday night the Roebuck Road roundabout and bridge were heavily impacted by the deluge resulting in a flash flood along Gladstone Road and other suburban streets.

The flood waters were exacerbated by cars driving through them sending small waves of stormwater into shops and low-lying garages and homes.

A region-wide climate change risk assessment will start this year and this will inform adaptation planning as well as land-use planning and regulation, strategic planning, infrastructure management, and emergency management.

Keep an eye on Council's website and the Facebook pages for Council and Tairāwhiti Civil Defence for the latest information.

To report anything, contact Council on 0800 653 800, use the GDC FIX app on any smartphone, email service@gdc.govt.nz or use the eFix service on Council’s website.

Photos from Saturday’s deluge below:

Flash flood

Surburban flood