Eastern BOP residents urged to prepare for Cyclone Cook

Residents in the Bay of Plenty are being warned to take all necessary precautions as heavy rain is expected from midday today. 

Around 200 to 250mm of rain is predicted to fall in the 48 hours from midday today to midday to Friday. Severe gales are also predicted along the coast, which will likely lead to storm surges and flooding of coastal margins. 

Clinton Naude, Group Controller for the Bay of Plenty, says people should be prepared.

“The Bay of Plenty region is already dealing with the effects of Ex-Cyclone Debbie, which saw extensive rain fall in the region last week. With further rain set to arrive from today people should observe natural warning signs. If you’re living near a river, low lying or coastal area and concerned or feeling unsafe don’t wait for official alerts to act.

Take this time to get your Grab and Go kits ready, especially if you’re living in low-lying coastal areas. Keep up to date with Civil Defence advice and make sure you have a plan on where to go should you have to evacuate.”

All 57 schools and 80 early learning services in the Eastern Bay of Plenty are closed today, and possibly tomorrow. 

The Ministry of Education’s deputy secretary of Sector Enablement and Support Katrina Casey says there is concern further flooding will close roads already affected by slips.

“Following yesterday's decision by the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence emergency management group to expand the state of emergency, we are taking precautions and asking all 57 schools in the Whakatane, Opotiki and Kawerau districts to close. We are also asking about 80 early learning services including Kohanga and home-based care services in these areas to close tomorrow.

We do not want to risk having students stranded at schools as a result of road conditions.

These closures are for tomorrow only. The developing weather situation will be reassessed tomorrow afternoon to decide whether the schools and ECEs reopen on Thursday.

The forecast heavy rain has the potential to cause further closures outside the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The best information will come from these schools and early learning services themselves as they make decisions about closures. Parents are advised to check their websites or Facebook pages or contact them directly."

Warnings have been issued ahead of the bad weather forecast over the next few days;

• Any areas subject to flooding in the past are likely to be flooded again, if the weather forecasts are accurate.

• Areas of concern include flood-prone areas of Ōhope, Whakatāne (Apanui catchment and the area surrounding the Wainui Te Whara Stream); and in Matatā, the Clem Elliott Drive and Richmond Street areas. The Matatā Motor Camp is also likely to have its access way cut-off. Be alert to the circumstances and be prepared to evacuate. If you feel unsafe, self-evacuate and do it early.

• Significant storm surges are likely in coastal areas. Residents in West End and other areas of Ōhope close to the dunes/beach should be particularly alert, be prepared to evacuate. If you feel unsafe, self-evacuate and do it early.

• Anyone in areas likely to be affected by flooding who is going to work in the morning is advised to take extra clothes and key documents with them.

• Residents living in close proximity to the escarpments in Whakatāne, Ōhope and Matatā should be alert to the heightened risk of landslides. With soil already sodden and further heavy rain on the way, the chance of slips occurring from the escarpment will increase considerably. As a precaution, people facing that situation are advised to stay out of rooms which may be in the direct path of any landslide. If concerned consider self-evacuating until the weather improves.

People can also follow the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Facebook page for information about how to get ready before an event.