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Tairāwhiti slowly drying out

Wednesday 11 January, 2023

The wind and rain from ex-tropical Cyclone Hale may be abating but Tairāwhiti Civil Defence controller Nedine Thatcher Swann is urging caution.

Contractors are working hard across the region to ensure access for whānau caught by flooding and slips. “There is a lot of really great work going on for our community,” she said.

The three-day forecast is looking promising with the front moving away from Tairāwhiti. The rivers are dropping, albeit slowly. The Hikuwai River, which peaked at 13.51m, is almost down to the first alert level of 6.5m.

Inspections around both the state highways and local roads are exposing some significant issues, with some likely to remain closed until further notice. For the full and latest lists, head to local road closures.

The Gladstone Road Bridge will be closed from 7pm tomorrow (Thursday) evening through to 6am on Friday to allow the woody debris to be cleared. While it is hoped it will take just one night to complete the task, it could span over two as the team works with the tides and the weather.

There are 51 local roads closed (as of noon Wednesday) and still more are being discovered as the crews get out and about. Contractors are working closely with Eastland Network to prioritise access for re-connectivity of whānau. There are still 831 customers without power but the numbers were dropping.

While water levels are dropping, wastewater is still being discharged into the rivers and likely to continue for another day or so, and people are reminded to stay out of the water, and continue to reduce water use to give the overwhelmed systems a chance to recover.

“It has been a massive collaborative effort from so many people,” says Nedine Thatcher Swann. “Right from preparedness to iwi and our community response groups, to contractors and stakeholders. All our community have really come together to help and look after each other.”

In the last 24 hours, there was 102.4mm of rain at the Stout Street gauge, 81.4 mm at the Gisborne Airport Met Station, 177.2mm at Raparapaririki, inland from Ruatoria, 142mm at Waimata River (at Goodwins Road Bridge), Waikura Valley had 224.,5mm, and Hikuwai River (at No.4 Bridge) had 207mm.

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

Sewer overflows, land cracks or slipping on property should be called in to 0800 653 800, or take photos or videos, and send them to [email protected].

River levels can be found on our website.

Keep up to date on local road closures.

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.