31 Jan 2011

Access to Coromandel towns restored after flooding

5:48 am on 31 January 2011

The Thames Coromandel District Council has been criticised by a Tapu campground owner, who says it's disgraceful authorities didn't know the town was cut off.

About 500 people were forced to stay put in Tapu and nearby Te Mata over the weekend, after slips caused by heavy rain from Cyclone Wilma blocked roads.

The worst slip, boulders covering 3000 square metres, has blocked State Highway 25 at Ruamahanga for two days.

A Tapu campground owner, Bruce Efford, says people tried to let authorities know they had been isolated but were passed on to department after department.

Mr Efford thinks the Thames Coromandel District Council should have deployed a helicopter to scan for towns in trouble.

He says it's disgraceful that a town can be cut off for 24 hours without the council realising it.

But the district council rejects the claims its response was slow.

A spokesperson, Andrew Mehrtens, says there's a well publicised council telephone number that worried residents should call in the first instance.

He says if anyone was contacting different contracting organisations instead of the council, that may have taken a while, because that's not the council's procedure for getting information in and out.

The campers can now leave by ranges on the Tapu to Coroglen road, which had been blocked by a slip.

However, the council is telling drivers of campervans and cars towing caravans to wait if possible until the more suitable State Highway 25 reopens.

Road closures

In Bay of Plenty, State Highway Two in Waimana Gorge near Taneatua is closed due to slips and flooding.

A detour is in place via Wainui Road.

In Northland, State Highway 11 from Opua to Paihia remains closed because of flooding, with detours in place.

Whakatane District Council says SH35 east of Opotiki is now open again.

It was closed because high seas had reached the road at Hawai, Te Kaha and Waihau Bay.

Repairs to sewage and water treatment plants

Repairs are being carried out on sewage and water treatment plants in the upper North Island, in the wake of Cyclone Wilma.

Water restrictions in Tauranga have been lifted. Tauranga City Council says processing plants are now running again and the need to conserve water is now over.

Despite the good weather, it advises people to stay out of the water in the inner harbour for the rest of Anniversary Weekend.

Beachgoers in Auckland are advised to avoid swimming in the water for the next three days because of sewage overflows at some beaches.

Tests will be carried out at Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers, Blockhouse Bay and Pt Chevalier.

People on the Coromandel Peninsula have been warned not to swim or collect shellfish in the Whangamata estuary, or at Onemana beach.

Repairs to a water treatment plant at Haruru Falls in Northland have been completed, but the sewerage plant is still out of action.