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Flood-hit areas spared worse

Editorial

Heavy rain and strong winds have continued to lash the region overnight but fortunately focused to the south of Gisborne, and forecast to be easing off today before further damage can be done.

An absolute deluge on Sunday morning centred between Ruatoria and Tokomaru Bay caused extensive flooding and required self-evacuations, followed by a huge community and Civil Defence response. East Coast MP and Minister for Emergency Management Kiri Allan was out checking on the flooding impacts at Tokomaru and Waipiro bays on Sunday, despite being on leave after having just finished chemotherapy for cervical cancer. Yesterday residents were in clean-up and pulling-together mode in a welcome interlude of fine weather on the Coast.

The full extent of damage will take time to be assessed but four homes and Hatea a Rangi School at Tokomaru Bay were badly flooded, numerous roads have been scoured and many fences taken out by floodwaters and debris. Silt now lies as thick sludge in many areas.

It appears that floodwaters were blocked above Arthur Street at the southern entry to Tokomaru Bay on Sunday morning, before being released in a torrent that swept across the four properties, collecting up caravans and a container, flooding the houses and flowing on through the kura on the other side of the creek. The aftermath of thick silt and property damage is devastating for the homeowners and school community.

Forestry debris has not been a feature of this flooding, which is a relief for residents, the forestry industry and the council, after a focus on harvest management practices following previous floods that mobilised sometimes vast quantities of slash, amplifying damage before littering riversides and beaches.

The worst affected parts of the Coast had 150mm to 200mm of rain on Sunday, with peak rainfall of around 50mm from 7am-8am.

These flood-hit areas had about 30mm more rain fall overnight — compared to 60mm and more in the Wharerata hills and northern Wairoa, which had been tipped to get 80-110mm up to 10am today.

The MetService says the region’s wet weather will ease today but the cold, strong southerlies will continue. Some showers are expected tomorrow, clearing at night with the southerlies gradually easing — and fine weather is forecast for the rest of the week.

Caution is still advised for anyone out on the district’s roads.