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Isolated communities focus for response

Thursday 12 January, 2023

There’s a big push underway to help isolated coastal communities affected by ex-tropical Cyclone Hale who are running low on both store supplies and cash due to road closures, power and internet outages which are affecting EFTPOS.

Gisborne District Council is working closely with agencies to find a way to deliver food to the Coast stores. They’re also coordinating with contractors, Eastland Network and Chorus to re-connect the Coast, with assessments continuing on the full impact and damage from the weather.

The forecast is improving with rain set to ease through the day after a southerly change last night saw some heavy showers across the city.

SH35 remains closed between Tolaga Bay and Ruatorea, with a lot of surface flooding and silt on the road between Ruatorea and Hicks Bay. To the south, SH2 is closed between Wairoa and Whirinaki, but open to the north. Keep an eye on Council’s website for the latest developments. Caution is advised for anyone who needs to be out and about on the roads.

There are 51 local roads, with 200 faults, closed with crews out at first light working to clear slips and debris where they can and assess damage. The unsealed road network will reopen to heavy vehicles from 8pm this evening. Wigan Bridge on Tauwhareparae Road is likely to remain closed for around two weeks. An assessment is underway to determine the best way to remove debris from the Mangatokorau Bridge.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence controller Nedine Thatcher Swann says the amount of debris present in the water way is concerning. "It is acting as a dam there, so careful removal will be required from an environmental and health and safety perspective.”

Gladstone Road Bridge will be closed between 7pm this evening and 6am while contractors move the woody debris.

There are still around 300 customers without power with Eastland Network crews working as quickly as possible to reconnect homes. It is hoped to have Te Puia fully reconnected by lunchtime today. One of the biggest problems for the crews is access to sites.

Some of the city valves have been closed thanks to people reducing their water use and the rain easing, but people are still reminded to stay out of the ocean and waterways.

Three houses in the Hill Road area have been affected by land movements. One, an “under and over slip”, is affecting two buildings where the slip head scarp is close to the upper house but has come to rest against a lower building which will be issued with a dangerous building notice requiring it to remain empty.

Ms Thatcher Swann says it was “very fortunate” the house was empty when the slip happened. The other two buildings remain occupied.

“We will be closely monitoring these two buildings to check for any further movements, to ensure they can remain occupied,” says Ms Thatcher Swann.

People are encouraged to check their properties and contact Council on 0800 653 800 if they notice any cracks or changes.

Ms Thatcher Swann says once a full overall picture is gathered, the region will move to recovery mode.

“We know it is a challenging time for everyone at the moment but again, I extend a big thanks to all those who are working so hard to help our communities in all sorts of ways,” she said.

Useful links:

Rainfall data https://www.gdc.govt.nz/envir.../maps-and-data/rainfall-data

River levels https://www.gdc.govt.nz/enviro.../maps-and-data/river-levels

Watch the river webcam https://www.gdc.govt.nz/environment/river-webcam

Local road closures https://www.gdc.govt.nz/.../roads-and.../road-information

State highway updates https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/regions/5