NZ Local News

Weather: Rain easing in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay; communities left isolated and homes without power following deluge

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River levels rising under the William Pettie Bridge in Gisborne.

River levels across Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay are dropping but the local civil defence is warning that there is still a threat of slips and road drop-outs.

Heavy rainfall smashed the region overnight with one area seeing 300mm, and others seeing between 130mm and 185mm in 24 hours.

Heavy rain warnings, which were in place for more than 30 hours, have ended and there are now no warnings or watches in place across the North Island.

“The heaviest falls have passed,” the Hawke’s Bay regional council said in a Facebook post.

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This comes after MetService had to extend a heavy rainfall warning for Tairāwhiti-Gisborne and the Wairoa District of Hawke’s Bay late this morning in fears that the rain would increase again before easing.

Wairoa District Council said the deluge has closed more than 20 roads in the area and has isolated rural communities.

“Many areas are also without electricity, with crews working to restore power,” the council said in an update just after 12pm today.

The council said it’s staff have been out checking on rural communities and an evacuation centre at the War Memorial Hall in Queen St has been set up. It stated there has been no evacuations as of yet.

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Wairoa Civil Defence Controller Juanita Savage thanked those people and organisations who have supported the local response.

“We have a lot going on in our district. People’s safety and welfare are the priority, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts in supporting us. We know this is another challenging time and feel for our communities, particularly our rural and farming communities.”

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence said river levels across the region were dropping and rain was abating.

“However, Tairāwhiti is fragile. There is risk of land movement with the likelihood of slips and drop-outs on the roading network,” they said.

“Stay safe out there – we aren’t quite out of the woods yet.”

Locals are being urged to watch out for any land movement and to report any issues to local councils.

They are also being warned to not walk, play, swim or drive in floodwaters.

“There is lots of surface water around,” Tairāwhiti Civil Defence said.

“It is often contaminated so steer clear of it.”

Amid last night’s heavy rainfall, a person died and another was seriously injured after a car crashed into a slip south of Wairoa.

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A car was reported to have collided with the slip blocking SH2 between The Crescent and Kiwi Valley Rd. It was reported about 4.40am, police said.

The Lowe Corporation Hawke’s Bay Rescue helicopter flew from Hastings and the service reported the deceased was in the vehicle on arrival, and four other who had been in the vehicle were taken by ambulance to Wairoa Hospital. One was later flown from Wairoa to Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings.

Around 7am today the water levels of Wairoa River peaked.

Hawke’s Bay regional council said overnight rain caused water levels of the Mangapoike Stream to rise which in turn pushed water through to the Wairoa River.

Around 6am on Sunday residents in Te Karaka, inland from Gisborne in Tairāwhiti, were told to evacuate as the Waipaoa River levels crept up to 7m.

Others were being further warned of an evacuation if the river continued to rise past 7.5m.

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People were told to take their families, pets and pet food supplies with them.

The heavy rain and rain warning began on Friday, and up to 180mm or a month’s worth of rain had been forecast to fall in that time for some areas.

However the region was vulnerable as it was already saturated, with significant downpours just two weeks ago.

On Friday, officials were reminding locals to sort their supplies out.

“Things are expected to turn ugly this afternoon,” they said at the time.

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