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Tairāwhiti hunkering down in tough conditions

Wednesday 13 April, 2022

Stay home and stay safe. That’s the call from Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann who is reminding people to use reputable outlets only for information on road closures, flooding and other updates across the region as Tairāwhiti takes another hammering.

Trees coming down across the network have forced the closure of SH35 from Tolaga Bay north to Potaka from 8pm until further notice. Many other roads are also affected. The Mata Road loop has been shut due to winds over 100km/hr and all unsealed local roads are closed to heavy traffic.

“We have around 200 contractors out on the roading network working to keep the region connected in these atrocious conditions, so ask people to stay home unless absolutely necessary,” says Ms Thatcher Swann, adding the latest in roading information can be found on the website and Facebook pages of both Council and Waka Kotahi.

The rain generated by Cyclone Fili was a little slower than anticipated in coming down the Coast but certainly made up for it. In the 24 hours to 5pm this afternoon (Wednesday), the East Cape Lighthouse received 189mm, Ruatorea (at Barry Avenue) 179.5mm, Te Puia 170mm and the Hikuwai River (at No.4 Bridge) 154.5mm. It was a little lighter in town, with 61.6mm falling in Stout Street, 58.8mm at the Airport and 56mm at Wheatstone Road. Another 100mm is scheduled to fall before 11pm this evening with intensive rain totals expected up to 25-30mm.

The Hikuwai River flood alert went out at just before 2pm when the level reached 8m. It appears the river has reached its peak, but Ms Thatcher Swann says it is a fast-moving situation that needs to be kept a close eye on by all. The Waipaoa, Waimata, Te Arai and Taruheru are all being closely monitored too.

Eastland Port has no scheduled movements until noon on Friday with all large vessels out at anchor.

Communities around the region are doing welfare checks on pakeke and others who could be adversely affected by the weather. “For most it is a matter of just sitting tight,” says Ms Thatcher Swann. “The wind is becoming a big issue and brings with it the danger of trees coming down given how saturated the ground is. We don’t want people out and about unless they absolutely have to be.”

A state of emergency has not been declared but the situation will continue to be closely monitored by Civil Defence, with the region still under a Metservice red warning.

For the latest information, keep an eye on Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Facebook page and our website.

Please report any damage by filing a request for service by using the GDC FIX app on any smartphone, calling us on 0800 653 800, email service@gdc.govt.nz or via the eFix service on Council’s website.