25 Nov 2023

Heavy rain warnings for already-saturated Tai Rāwhiti and Hawke's Bay

3:07 pm on 25 November 2023
motion car rain big puddle of water spray from the wheels

Forecasters have warned of heavy rain in already-saturated Tai Rāwhiti and parts of Hawke's Bay this weekend. (File photo) Photo: 123RF

It has been a stormy night in Tai Rāwhiti and Hawke's Bay with rain warnings in place for some areas and problems from surface flooding.

Wairoa Civil Defence is asking people to check on their neighbours and whānau this weekend as more heavy rain batters the area, and floodwater overloading in the wastewater system is creating problems.

Power lines are down in the Waikura Valley, cutting power to almost 40 homes.

Firstlight Network said it is too windy to safely repair the fault so there is not a timeline on when it will be fixed.

It is advising Gisborne-based people to secure loose items outside and treat all power lines as live at all times.

RNZ National on 101.3 MHz FM is also not available in Gisborne as of 2pm due to fibre issues in the area.

MetService has issued heavy rain warnings for Tai Rāwhiti, and the Wairoa District of Hawke's Bay through until Sunday morning.

Up to 180 millimetres of rain was expected in some places between Friday night and Sunday morning. About 30mm of rain fell overnight from Friday into Saturday.

Earlier warnings for the parts of Hawke's Bay from south of Wairoa to north of Napier have been dropped.

Gisborne District Council said the heavy load from surface floodwaters in the wastewater system was causing the water to rise in toilets and preventing them from being flushed.

To prevent sewage from overflowing back into homes and onto roads, an emergency valve was opened at the Gladstone Road Bridge into the Turanganui River. The council was also dealing with a blockage at the Hall Street pump.

It said the discharge into the river was heavily diluted with rain water but was still a risk to health, and people should not go fishing or do any water activities at Tai Rāwhiti rivers or beaches for at least five days after the valve is closed.

Wairoa Civil Defence's Juanita Savage said early on Saturday morning that there was already surface flooding across some roads and paddocks.

If anyone felt unsafe they should call 111, she said.

She asked for reports of flooding to be left on the Wairoa District Council after hours number or the council's Facebook page - where photos could also be posted to help officials see what is going on.

The district was last hit with significant downpours just two weeks ago.

"There is some wind there that is pushing the weather through, where two weeks ago the weather just seemed to sit on top of us and not move off. The rain periods come and go - which I think is better for us," Savage said early on Saturday.

Rivers were being monitored and road crews were at the ready if necessary.

MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said on Saturday morning that this weekend's storm could bring 130 to 180mm of rain to each area.

"And for that Tai Rāwhiti-Gisborne region we are also expecting some thunderstorm activity - and ... with thunderstorms they do tend to bring quite an intense burst of rain in quite a short space of time."

The heavy rain could make driving hazardous and cause flooding and slips, with the potential for waterways to rise, MetService said.

Makgabutlane also warned that the saturation of the ground across Tai Rāwhiti and Hawke's Bay could add to the effects from the heavy rain.

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