Wild weather pounds East Coast, orange heavy warnings issued

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

Gisborne’s emergency sewer valve has been opened due to fears of sewage overflowing back into homes and onto roads.

(File image). Photo: Unsplash / Daoudi Aissa

High winds have also downed trees and cut power to homes in what could be a difficult night for residents.

The region was currently being hammered by severe weather.

The council has established an emergency centre in Tolaga Bay school and issued a flood warning for nearby Hikuwai River near Willow Flat.

Civil Defence officer Greg Shelton said the river level was nearing nine metres, but its banks could handle up to 13 metres.

There were orange heavy rain warnings for Gisborne/Tai Rāwhiti about and south of Ruatoria and Hawke’s Bay north and south of SH5.

An orange strong wind warning was also in place for Gisborne/Tai Rāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay from Wairoa northwards, including Māhia Peninsula.

Severe gale southerlies could reach 120 km/h in exposed places, MetService said, with the strongest winds are expected in coastal places.

At 3pm, there was 44mm of rain recorded at Gisborne Airport, according to the Gisborne District Council.

The council said the city’s wastewater system has been flooded with intense rain draining from residential homes.

Ground water levels had already very high due to rain that started at the weekend, and combined with more rain today has resulted in surface flooding finding its way into the sewer, it said.

To stop sewage overflowing back into homes and onto roads, the council had to release the excess water.

It opened the emergency sewer valve at Gladstone Road into the Turanganui River at 2.30pm.

Scour valves to the Taruheru River were opened at Palmerston Road and at Oak Street at 3pm and at Owen Road into the Waimata river at 3.08pm.

“We only open the valve when it’s absolutely necessary and only in the areas with issues.

“The discharge is highly diluted with rain water, but still poses a health risk.

“We’ll notify the Hauora Tairāwhiti Medical Officer of Health, water user and sports groups,” the council said.

Temporary warning signs would be installed and the council advised no swimming, fishing or gathering shellfish in rivers and beaches until at least five days after the valves were closed and warning signs were removed.

Meanwhile, the council said Tiniroto Road was closing overnight at the bluffs from 7pm, with contractors scheduled to inspect it tomorrow at 7am to make a decision on reopening it.

SH35 was also closed between Anaura Road and Mata Road, Mangatuna.

There were also slips south of Tutira on State Highway Two from Wairoa to Napier.

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