4 Nov 2021

'Be vigilant, things might get worse' - Gisborne Mayor

6:58 pm on 4 November 2021

Gisborne's mayor says nobody has yet been forced to leave their homes despite severe flooding in the region prompting a state of emergency being declared.

Flooding in Sponge Bay, Gisborne

Flooding in Sponge Bay, Gisborne Photo: Supplied

A state of emergency has been declared in the area as heavy rain pounds the region and high tide was due to hit at 6pm.

"We are not evacuating people at this stage, it's all voluntary," Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz told Checkpoint.

"At this stage we're asking everyone to just keep an eye out, things are changing quickly in Gisborne it's still raining very very hard so just watch out what's happening in your backyard."

Stoltz said residents will be provided with an update on the extent of flooding after the high-tide.

"We're in the middle of this rain event so we are planning that things might get worse, so we're asking everyone to be super vigilant. Please stay home if you don't have to travel."

She said Police and Army personnel will be inspecting certain areas and informing residents of the dangers of flooding.

"Police and Army are helping to make sure anyone that feels unsafe is self-evacuating, we have three centres that people can go to in Gisborne if they are unsafe at their home."

While looking at the Taruheru river, she said: "It is rough, it is brown, it is really going hard and it's still pouring."

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said the resident secured a speaking spot at the Sustainable Tairāwhiti meeting on the ground that he was talking about sustainability.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz Photo: Supplied / LDR

"The ground is totally saturated, our river levels are very high, we're asking everyone to be really vigilant especially residents around the Taruheru river with the 6pm high-tide coming in," Stoltz said.

Sponge Bay, one of the worst-hit areas, has had several roads closed due to extensive surface flooding.

Stoltz urged residents who feel unsafe to call the council and head to one of their emergency centres across the area.

Residents have been asked to avoid rivers in the region after local authorities were forced to open a sewage pipe due to unrelenting rain.

"As the rain just kept on coming our stormwater system flooded into some of our wastewater pipes which then meant if we don't open the scours sewage would be pushed into people's homes.

"It's an unfortunate event, we try to do as few of those as we can. There are scours open into our river at this stage so we need people to stay away from our rivers."

Further up the coast, she said the majority of concern is being concentrated on the areas south of Tolaga Bay but surface flooding is widespread.