Due to heavy rain and surface flooding, Civil Defence has declared a state of emergency for the entire Gisborne Tairwhiti district.
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.
Civil Defence controller Dave Wilson said surface flooding around the district has 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.
Photo: Gisborne District Council
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.
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 are 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.