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State of emergency continues

Wednesday 11 January, 2023

Tairāwhiti continues to be in a state of emergency as first light has revealed considerable damage to the roading network with multiple slips and dropouts around the region.

Some communities are cut off with more than 1300 households without power after ex tropical Cyclone Hale pummeled the region overnight.

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Controller Nedine Thatcher Swann says the focus this morning is to restore access and power to those communities, however, it will take time as access into these areas is difficult for power crews.

“We’re asking everyone to please be patient and continue to avoid all unnecessary travel. We have multiple road closures, there is still surface flooding and as more people get out and about this morning we are hearing more reports of large cracks in roads.”

At 3am the Hikuwai River peaked at 13.51m.

SH35 remains closed between Tokomaru Bay to Ruatorea and SH2 south is closed from Tutira with slips on the road. The Waioeka Gorge remains open at this stage.

“Tikitiki is isolated from both ends and the internet is down, so we have been unable to make contact with anyone there for more than 12 hours, this is a priority for our teams today to make a connection to see how they fared overnight,” says Ms Thatcher Swann.

“I also want to acknowledge the hard mahi undertaken through the night and the level of communication from Civil Defence prior to this event which ensured our community was highly prepared.

“Please let us know if you need any assistance.”

Ms Thatcher Swann says there is a still a lot of water in the catchments and river levels remain high with woody debris collecting at bridges around Tairāwhiti.

“We also have more rain forecast for the end of this week and into next week so we are not out of the woods yet.

“With the highly saturated land we are asking people to please check their properties for any news cracks or slips and to let us know immediately.”

Council’s 4 Waters Operations Manager Chris Hopman says wastewater is still being discharged to rivers and there are also two emergency pumps operating.

“Please reduce water use as our systems are overwhelmed. If you can delay using your washing machine today it would make a big difference.”

Last night around 9pm Ex tropical Cyclone Hale brought 51mm of rain in one hour on Mangaheia at Willowbank -- the highest intensity rainfall in the region. This is more than double the rainfall from Saturday night in Gisborne.

During that same hour rain gauges measured 34.5mm of rain at Panikau Road – Reed Road, 28.5mm at Hikuwai River at No 4 Bridge, 25.8m at Pouawa Fire.

There was also 29.8mm recorded Waimata River at Goodwins Road Bridge, where the river level peaked at 8.3m.

Unsealed roads on our roading network remain closed to heavy freight vehicles.

Transfer Stations at Matawai, Te Puia, Te Araroa and Tokomaru Bay are closed until further notice.

If you have any sewer overflows, land cracks or slipping on your property please call us on 0800 653 800 or take photos or videos and send them to us at [email protected].

River levels can be found on Council’s website.

Keep up to date on local road closures on Council’s website.

For State Highway road conditions check the Waka Kotahi website.

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