12 Nov 2022

Tairāwhiti rains: Damage being assessed, power being restored

11:58 am on 12 November 2022
The Hikuwai River at Willowflat is expected to peak at at least 12 metres at midnight tonight.

The Hikuwai River peaked at 11.6 metres at about 6pm yesterday. Photo: Gisborne District Council / Screenshot

The state highway between Tolaga Bay and Ruatoria remains closed this morning.

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence is asking people to stay home and off the roads.

The organisation said its contractors were checking the damage caused by yesterday's heavy rains in Tairāwhiti.

It said it was clearing slips and downed trees with a loader, but in some cases would have to wait for surface flooding to recede.

A MetService heavy rain warning is still in place, with localised heavy rain and thunderstorms still possible until midday.

The rain eased overnight, with no further flooding however communities between Uawa and Ruatorea are isolated.

Tairāwhiti civil defence controller Nedine Thatcher Swann said today's focus was getting help to isolated communities and clearing roads.

She was asking anyone who was cut off and who needed help, to contact the council.

Tokomaru Bay civil defence co-ordinator Lillian Te-Hau Ward is urging people to stay at home, so that road repair crews can do their job.

She said State Highway 35 had become a scoured-out mess after a culvert flooded.

She said more water and debris from the Waikoko Stream had further damaged the road and the situation was being made worse by people who were driving around to take a look.

Te-Hau Ward said only one family in her area was evacuated overnight as a precaution and would return today.

Many residents along the East Coast voluntarily evacuated after more than 185 millimetres of rain fell north of Tolaga Bay.

The Hikuwai River peaked at 11.6 metres at about 6pm yesterday, and high tide passed without any issues at 9pm.

Modelling last night showed the rain was moving away from the region.

Lines company Eastland Network said crews would be trying to restore power this morning to properties in Tokomaru Bay and Te Puia Springs, and later to Tolaga Bay.

East Cape Road residents could go without power for longer because of slips and downed power lines.

It is unclear how many properties are still without electricity.

Houses in Gisborne and Wairoa that lost power have all been reconnected.

In the Bay of Plenty, a slip has closed State Highway 2 to Ōpōtiki, near Waiotahe.

Waka Kotahi said a detour was available, but there would be delays and it was not suitable for heavy vehicles.

And on the Coromandel, State Highway 25 is closed between Kuaotunu and Wharekaho by a slip.