Roads, rivers monitored as rain hammers Tolaga Bay

By Jessica Tyson
Wigan bridge, Tauwhareparae Road, Tolaga Bay. Source: Tairawhiti Civil Defence

The remote area around Tolaga Bay continues to be hit hard by rain today, following extreme flooding over the Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Tolaga Bay received a further dumping of heavy rain last night but the Hikuwai River north of Tolaga Bay, while trending down, remains elevated at around 5.5m.  The average winter flow is around 2 metres.

MetService says 30 to 50mm of rain is expected through to 1pm today.

Flooding in Tolaga Bay on Monday. Source: Lydia Edginton

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency manager Louise Bennett says the team would be keeping a close eye on developments.

"With the catchment already saturated and the Uawa and Hikuwai rivers fairly high, if we get localised rain bands coming through the rivers could well spike quickly again.

"We feel extremely fortunate that we did not have any fatalities yesterday as the result of the flooding," she says.

Rivers levels have receded but more rain is expected later in the week.

Source: Tairawhiti Civil Defence

Bridges and road closures

State Highway 35 up the East Coast is open but 12 local roads remain closed.  At least 11 bridges of concern are being assessed by engineers today.

Tairawhiti Roads journey manager Helen Harris says some of the bridges were affected by slash, some not.

"We working on how we will best clean up these bridges. Forestry companies are complying with our request to stay off the roads where possible. Some have offered to help remove logs damming up around bridges."

At least 11 bridges are being assessed by engineers and roading contractors are out monitoring the roads.

Six crews of roading contractors will today progressively go to all the roads in the area, some of which they were unable to reach yesterday.

Wigan bridge, Tauwhareparae Road, Tolaga Bay. Source: Tairawhiti Civil Defence

Homes and schools

Close to 30 properties in the Arakihi Road area are still without power. 

Eastland Network may fly into the area to restore power today as the road remains closed together with Paroa, Mangatokerau, Pa, Waiomoko, Arakihi, Kiore, Anaura Bay, Kaiaua, Waihau Bay, Glenroy, Tauwhareparae and Takapau roads. 

Tolaga Bay Area School was open for local children today but many children from outlying areas would not be attending.

Check the NZTA and Gisborne District Council websites for road closure updates.