Tairāwhiti road cut by floods adds hours to truck journeys

Trucks carrying logs and cattle are adding five hours to their journey while a vital coastal link is cut due to flooding in the Tairāwhiti region.

Civil Defense says 36 roads are closed and the remaining roads are only accessible by four-wheel drive.

Tairāwhiti could receive some much-needed dry weather on Saturday after days of rain flooded much of the region and roads and bridges were washed out or closed by slides.

Agricultural consultant Lance Rickard said transporting weaners to area sales this week will be a six-hour trip instead of the usual 1.5 hours.

“Our contractors have been out and will be working all weekend trying to restore access to these communities, but… some restored access is still four wheel drive and when we say we really mean it’s four wheel drive engines only for those.”

READ MORE: Tairāwhiti flood damage ‘will take about a year’ to clean up

Rickard said farmers are still assessing damage to their properties.

Civil Defense Tairawhiti Group Comptroller David Wilson said residents should be extra careful on the roads.

He said he feared the heavy rains would raise river levels and help bring supplies to residents cut off by the weather.

READ MORE: Tairāwhiti: floods cause huge damage to marae, kōhanga reo

Civil Defense is also helping some residents return home to assess flood damage, Wilson said.

Waka Kotahi said he hoped to have a temporary solution in place by April 13 for the Maungahauini Bridge in Tokomaru Bay to restore the vital link to the coast.

Several other roads are still closed:

– State Highway 2 is closed in Bartletts, south of the intersection with Puninga Road.

– SH35 remains closed from Tolaga Bay to Ruatoria, as well as from Potaka to Hicks Bay.

– SH38 is stuck in Frasertown without detour.

Around 170 households in the area were left without power last night with downed lines and poles.

Eastland Network chief executive Jarred Moroney said fallen trees caused a 50-kilovolt line to the coast to be severed on Friday and there was a new fault in Tolaga Bay this morning.

He said power grids were badly damaged in Tiniroto, Ruakaka, Bushy Knoll, Whatatutu, Makarika and Mata Road areas.

Moroney said contractors were working to repair defects and deal with new ones.

READ MORE: Gisborne hit by 3 months of rain in 24 hours

MetService is expecting little to no rain in Tairāwhiti on Saturday, but a low front is still sitting just off the coast.

Tolaga Bay Civil Defense Director Greg Shelton said the short-term outlook is okay, but people should be careful and aware that the rain could return.

Tolaga Bay, which has been hit hard by heavy downpours and surface flooding, is also expected to be without much rain until Tuesday, he said.

But there is significant surface flooding and much of State Highway 35 up and down the coast is closed due to slides and washouts.

A rescue team navigates flood waters at Tairāwhiti.

Shelton was grateful the next few days will be relatively dry, but said Tuesday could bring rain.

“Just a normal rainy day, but given what we already have in the ground and in the rivers, anything could happen.”

He said the rivers had not broken through, but an additional 50-80mm of rain could push them to their banks.

The Tairāwhiti region is still in a state of local emergency.

MetService has a heavy rain watch in place for the Gisborne area south of the city until 3 a.m. this morning, and a strong wind watch is in place for the area until 1 p.m. today .

Rain worsens staff shortage in orchards

The Mangahauini River eats away at State Highway 35 near Tokomaru Bay.

An arborist in Gisborne said heavy rains had compounded problems caused by understaffing and he feared some fruit was rotting on the trees.

Kaiaponi grows apples which are shipped to Asia, citrus fruits and feijoas which are sold throughout New Zealand, and kiwis which are distributed by Zespri.

General manager Scott Wilson said picking and processing has slowed as the region takes the brunt of the weather.

He said his company’s crops can only be harvested once a year and heavy rains hit in the middle of that season.

They will have to make up for lost work in the coming weeks.

Cleanup of central Hawke’s Bay won’t begin until next week

Residents of central Hawke’s Bay are facing a tough weekend, with flood cleanup not starting until next week.

More than 300mm of rain has fallen in the foothills of the district in recent days.

The main Waipawa and Tukituki rivers reached a 50-year high on Thursday.

Waka Kotahi says repair crews from the Hawke’s Bay Center will be on site today to assess flood damage.

READ MORE: Aerial footage shows destroyed bridge, extent of Tairāwhiti floods

The council said its emergency operations center will operate remotely over the weekend and crews will be busy dealing with issues of high winds, localized flooding, slips and road closures.

Hiranui Road, Herrick Street and Porangahau Road are closed and detours are in place.

Telephone services have been restored following the outages this morning.

A boil water advisory remains in place for Waipukurau and cistern water is available at Russell Park.

People are urged to stay away from flooded areas and to be alert while driving.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is expecting a costly bill as it prepares to clean up heavy rains with major road closures and water restrictions that officials say could remain in place for days.

MetService has an orange level heavy rain warning in place for Wairoa until 3am this morning, predicting up to 60mm of rain on top of what has already fallen.


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