5 Jun 2018

Flooding shuts 61 bridges across Tolaga Bay

1:52 pm on 5 June 2018

Gisborne District Council says 61 bridges in the Tolaga Bay catchment are being shut due to flooding, as authorities stay on alert for more heavy rain and flooding in an already-sodden Tolaga.

Logs wash up on Tologa Bay beach after flooding in the area.

Logs wash up on Tolaga Bay beach after flooding in the area. Photo: Photo / John Boynton

Tolaga Bay on the East Cape was hit the hardest by flooding on Sunday night, while the 29 customers inland who lost power during the storm have now had it restored.

MetService said the area had moderate to heavy rain overnight, and the rivers would still be running high as the soil was too saturated to absorb any more water.

Lines company Eastland Power said it was having trouble getting to the properties with road closures but it did have some crews on the ground and hoped to return power to most customers later this afternoon.

MetService lead forecaster Michael Martens said Auckland, Northland, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty - which also had a wet holiday weekend - also had between 25 and 60 millimetres of rain overnight.

Twenty families in Tolaga Bay spent the night with friends and neighbours after evacuating their homes because of the flooding.

One family of three was airlifted off their roof yesterday after being stranded for four hours.

Other households potentially at risk have also been monitored.

Farmer Mike Parker told Morning Report he took a look at the devastation from a helicopter yesterday.

"We just didn't realise that the devastation, like it was actually higher than cyclone Bola which was very scary because where we are on the Tolaga bay flats - we are probably the highest point of it and it's been vey localised up the back of the Mangaheia River and Tauwhareparae there.

"It's sort of been an absolute weather bomb up there by the looks of it," he said.

"We are just really in clean up mode, a lot of fences are down and yeah, the tidy up is sort of starting really."

Tolaga Bay farmer Dean Brensell said locals have been raising concerns for years about the remains of forestry operations - know as slash.

The slash caused widespread damage along the East Coast during the weekend's storm when it clogged up the Waiomoko river - flowing into paddocks and onto roads.

"There has been meetings here in huis here in Uawa regarding issues the community have raised about the amount of wood, so it's definitely been an ongoing thing and not just here in Uawa, in lots of parts of Gisborne and the coast especially, it's definitely been raised with the council prior to this," Mr Brensell said.

Resident Linda Goff said she woke up to find a river of water around 3m deep running underneath her elevated house.

"We had a huge big cage trailer and we found out that it's down in the river, and that's moved from behind a bus and been dragged right out .. it's just the power of these logs ... this would not have happened if these logs were not left to be washed down into our rivers," Ms Goff said.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence emergency manager Lousie Bennett said she does not anticipate needing to move more people.

Ms Bennett said she hoped to be going from response to recovery mode today.

Niwa's principal weather forecaster Chris Brandolino said he doesn't expect much more rain today.

"There will be some across the Bay of Plenty, but nothing like we saw over the long weekend," he said.

He said rainfall today will be a fraction of what it was over the weekend and is unlikely to cause problems.

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