Minister defends response to Thames flooding

7:59 pm on 9 January 2018

Coastal Thames locals, frustrated with the response after last week's storm brought flooding, have brought their complaints to the Civil Defence Minister.

Minister Kris Faafoi is visiting the area after the storm left the Thames Coromandel Road severely damaged and properties flooded throughout the region.

At a meeting with locals in the town of Te Puru this morning, many voiced frustrations about power outages and poor communication from officials.

The storm initially left about 9000 customers in the Tauranga, Thames Valley and Coromandel areas without electricity.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

One man said during there had been poor communication from Civil Defence and warnings they'd had were either inaccurate or nonexistent, and updates from NZTA were often late or conflicting.

He and another local also voiced frustration that Powerco had "unnecessarily" turned off the power for 24 hours, eight hours after the damage was done.

However, Mr Faafoi said he was happy with the response.

"I think there's always some room for improvement in these situations, but I think if you speak to the community as a whole they're pretty happy with how things are at.

"I think you've also got to remember this is a pretty busy time for the Coromandel, they've got lots of visitors, and you saw this community of Te Puru also played host to a number of tourists who found themselves stranded here so on the whole I think it's a pretty good response."

Mr Faafoi also said his visit today would inform what response the government would take.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi meets with locals in the town o Te Puru

Mr Faafoi meets with locals in Te Puru Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Highway damage

Mr Faafoi also said there had been some superb work done on the highway to get it back open.

Trucks and other heavy vehicles are being asked to avoid the Thames Coastal Road in Coromandel as crews work to repair storm damage.

The Transport Agency said there was extensive damage to 42km of highway between Thames and Manaia.

Escort convoys are operating along the highway.

The agency said heavy vehicles should travel via Tairua around State Highway 25 to make sure the road was not damaged further.

Mr Faafoi said there needs to be some long-term decisions about the future of the Thames Coast Road, with the potential for extreme weather events becoming more common.

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