Gisborne flooding: Residents told to prepare for evacuation


Some Gisborne residents are being told to prepare to evacuate as flood levels rise in the waterlogged region.

Flooding on Hamilton Drive, Sponge Bay Estate, Gisborne.

Photo: Supplied / Cook Island News / Gary Clapham

The area has been drenched, with MetService reporting 174mm of rain at Gisborne Airport in the 36 hours leading up to 4pm – almost three time the average November rainfall of 65mm.

Civil Defence declared the local state of emergency at 2pm today.

Sponge Bay residents were warned to be ready to leave if required, with some already having abandoned the area as contractors scrambled to build sandbag barriers.

IRN boats were being used to help evacuate residents in flood-hit areas.

Areas of particular focus included Kaiti and Taruheru riverside.

Many roads had been closed and the power was being shut off.

Portaloos had also been delivered to Sponge Bay, one of the worst-affected areas.

Surface flooding in Gisborne.

Surface flooding in Gisborne. Photo: RNZ

Parts of Kaiti and Fergusson Drive were also under water, with sandbagging underway in low-lying areas.

Residents along the Taruheru River were being asked to prepare to evacuate as the tide rises.

There were slips on East Cape Road and also Makarori Hill but both still had a single lane open for traffic.

Anaura Bay was completely cut off.

Three welfare centres have been set up at the Wainui School Hall, the Salvation Army and the House of Breakthrough, with Te Poho o Rawiri Marae on standby.

Surface flooding around Gisborne has closed off many roads.

Surface flooding around Gisborne has closed off many roads. Photo: Gisborne District Council

Civil Defence controller Dave Wilson said surface flooding around the district had closed several roads, and some people at Pouawa and Loisels had evacuated.

“The ground is already staurated, with high tide due at 6pm our rivers are being closely monitored.

“The road situation on both state highways and local roads are changing by the hour. Please drive to the conditions, and only travel if you need to.”

He encouraged people to contact the council to report any flooding.

“Anyone who is concerned for their safety should stay with friends and whānau. Welfare centres are being established across the district for those with nowhere to go. If people need assistance, please call us.”

There have been several road closures, with some down to one lane due to slips. Sponge Bay has surface flooding restricting some access to properties. A number of private properties in other areas have reported sewage overflowing as wastewater backs up. Some schools up the Coast have closed.

Wilson said the systems across the region were not coping with the sheer volume of water.

MetService earlier issued an orange warning for the region, with rain expected to ease after 6pm.

The Gisborne District Council said there has been 220 millimetres of rain since yesterday morning and its team had a busy night monitoring the city’s sewerage and stormwater systems.

Earlier, Tairawhiti Civil Defence and Emergency manager Ben Green told Midday Report the flooding is reaching saturation levels and it could affect land stability in some areas.

Gisborne floods slip

Photo: Supplied / Nadine Provst

“In terms of the forecast rain event which has been tracking through the region for the last 12 hours (we’ve had) surface flooding which we’re dealing with at the moment.”

“We’ve had people self-evacuate just as a precaution particularly with the high tides and the combination of the rain event from a couple of areas up the coast.”

The lower lying areas of Gisborne city were causing concern, he said.

Last night, the emergency sewer valves were opened to release pressure on the system and avoid sewage overflows.

Green said there has not been widespread power outages but some areas have been hit worse than others.

“The wind particularly at the top of the coast has been a lot stronger than the Gisborne area but there are certainly pockets where Eastern Networks are dealing with restoring utilities there.”

The weather has also affected the roads with a fallen tree closing Moanui Road while Anaura Road is closed with flooding.

Flooding in Sponge Bay, Gisborne

Photo: Supplied

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