5pm Wednesday 15 February, 2023
Residents in Tairāwhiti are being asked to limit water and power use, and a $40 cap has also been applied to all fuel purchases.
For the third day the region remains cut off with no road access in or out of the district, and no internet or cellphone coverage. Cellphone coverage remains out and national planning is working out options to restore access however there is no timeframe available.
To keep our community informed 22,000 copies of the Gisborne Herald were printed today and are being delivered by volunteers to every letter box around the city.
Water levels in the city’s reservoirs continue to drop as demand exceeds supply.
Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Group Controller Ben Green says water use must be reduced.
“If we do not cut our water demand as a community then our taps will run dry.
“Industry have been asked to stop all water use from today, that’s how serious it is.”
Multiple breaks have been identified along the city supply pipeline. Crews are making their way to the location but access is tricky. The backup Waipaoa supply will take a couple more days to kick in.
A $40 fuel limit was also put in place today at five petrol stations and it is cash only at this stage.
The Ministry of Education has confirmed all schools are closed until Monday 20 February, and this will be reviewed on Monday.
Connecting local roads in the region -- Tiniroto, Wharekopae and Waimata Valley -- are all closed at various locations making access to pockets of our community impossible. There are also multiple bridges and approaches washed out across the region.
Welfare is being coordinated to those who are isolated. Starlink mobile connections are keeping Civil Defence and emergency services online around the district.
The Salvation Army is operating as a welfare centre.
Eftpos terminals have gone into some supermarkets as they reopen their doors today.
“We’d like to thank our community again for everything they’re doing, it’s making a difference as we all get through this together. It will be a few more days before we can restore access to our region and a lot longer to recover from this very severe weather event.
“These are challenging times, and we need to work together as a region.”
MP Kiri Allan attended a Civil Defence briefing this afternoon.
She says thousands of people have contacted her Whakatane office to say they are thinking of Tairawhiti residents and sending aroha to our region.
Eastland Network, which distributes electricity to the region, is at reduced capacity and asks everyone to please limit their power use to help maintain the level of supply.
There are 4,500 customers without power – including more than 1,600 customers affected in Wairoa.
There is no timeframe on when power can be restored to these people however that is their number one priority.
Power has been restored to Gisborne city, including essential suppliers of food, fuel and health services; emergency services; and the police station.
Eastland Network is also running generators in Ruatorea, Te Araroa, Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay townships to keep their power on.
There are also multiple major faults across Tairāwhiti, with poles and lines down due to floods, wind, trees and slips. Access is currently limited or impossible in many areas.
Eastland Network crews are assessing the damage as access allows, and planning a programme of repairs that they’ll undertake over the coming days.
Communities are asked to prepare for the possibility of several days with this limited level of power supply.
The petrol stations open are:
- BP Kaiti
- BP Makaraka
- Challenge Gladstone Road
- Z Gladstone Road
- Mobile Portside
There is some significant damage on SH35 including Hikuwai No 1 bridge as can be seen in the images. There are slips all along SH35 as well. SH2 has sustained less damage and I know Waka Kotahi is looking closely at when it may be safe to open to at least allow some access. The region has sustained significant impacts.
Significant damage on SH35 including Hikuwai No 1 bridge as can be seen in the images below taken by MP Kiri Allan.