Contractors worked through the weekend to put temporary sea erosion protection in place for several properties hard hit by heavy seas and spring tides on Friday and Saturday.
The three worst affected beachfront properties have lost five to seven metres of dune frontage to the sea.
Gisborne District Council mobilised Fulton Hogan contractors first thing Saturday morning to begin temporary repair work.
The sea had undermined and swept away the gabion basket-filled rock protecting the beach frontage of the properties. Repair work was also needed to secure a septic tank from falling into the sea on one of the properties.
“Work has gone well over the weekend to install rock in front of the dune, and we’ve secured the properties and the septic tank concerned,” GDC lifelines director David Wilson said this morning.
The contractors installed temporary rock protection.
“Contractors will assess today if any further measures will need to be taken while a long-term solution is developed,” Mr Wilson said.
Several households self-evacuated while the work was done.
The Wainui damage featured on Television One news.
‘Sand comes and goes and we live with it’Pare Street resident Ronnie Amann told TV 1 it was the price he had to pay for his beachside property.
“I’ve been here 30 years now and things are the same. Sand comes and goes and we live with it.”
The Herald spoke to several people at Wainui this morning as other concerned home-owners surveyed the damage.
With a rain jacket and sledgehammer in hand, one Wainui resident was seen assembling a new fence on his property where the backyard had slipped away,
Other owners praised the work done by the council to stem the damage.
“They, the council contractors and staff have been great.”
Mr Wilson said the council would update owners and the community when there was further information available.
The Herald understands the property owners who self-evacuated their homes had since returned.
Coastal scientist and district councillor Dr Amber Dunn said “this would be the worse storm erosion we have seen since ’94/’95 going by my records”.
Wainui has a history of storm-generated erosion, often associated with rip currents.
“Sometimes this storm erosion lasts a whole season or two. We can get a whole autumn and winter of back-to-back-to-back large storm waves.
“That’s what we’re seeing at Wainui today,” she said.
“During these storm events the action of super efficient rip currents dotted along the Coast transport the sand from the beach out to sea to form sandbanks.”
Dr Dunn pointed out the sand had not disappeared.
“The rip and its currents have temporarily moved it out underneath the waves.
“These sandbanks are extremely important. They are the ocean’s way of breaking waves and of breaking large storm waves out at sea so that all that wave energy does not arrive at the shoreline.
“It’s a natural process with a really important function to reduce maximum wave energy arriving on the beach.
“Obviously all beaches are different and respond in their own unique way to storm events.
“Erosion at Wainui is complicated even further by the fact the beach is a very thin veneer of sand upon a rocky basement,” Dr Dunn said. “This means there is a limited supply of beach sand to form the offshore sandbanks.
“If the ocean needs more sand than what is on the beach it will look for sand in the dunes.”