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Communities north of Tolaga Bay were being evacuated this afternoon as the Hikuwai River north of the township crept close to 12 metres. Widespread rain continued across the district.
At 12 metres, the river floods across State Highway 35 and isolates communities.
Several dozen families in the Mangatuna, Wharekaka, Paroa and Mangaheia areas are affected. Many roads are also closed and floodwaters have crossed State Highway 35 in several places.
Gisborne District Council staff are now manually checking river levels because of a fault in the telemetry system that occurred mid-morning. These levels will be put on to the council website www.gdc.govt.nz as they become available to assist landowners in rural areas.
Gisborne Civil Defence controller Jon Davies says the area between Ruatoria and Tolaga Bay is currently the worst affected after more than 150mm of rain fell overnight.
“The Uawa River at Willow Flat, just north of Tolaga Bay, is now over 11 metres and we are expecting another 150mm through until tomorrow morning as well as thunderstorms.
“We are keeping a close watch on rivers and surface flooding throughout the district. Some of the worst affected areas are between Ruatoria and Tolaga Bay where there has been more than 200mm of rain in the past 24 hours.”
Jon Davies advises farmers to take precautions with stock and their own personal safety.
“We also ask people not to drive around in the rain unless essential. If it is necessary to drive, be very aware of surface flooding on the roads.”
Rural children across the Gisborne district were sent home early and some homes were without power but these have since been restored.
Several roads are closed including Tauwhareparae Road at Tolaga Bay and in the Ngatapa Valley, with more expected if the rain continues at the same level. Closures include those at Tuparoa and Waikawa roads, Hikuwai, Matahiia, Ngatapa Valley Road closed from Patutahi
Check www.gdc.govt.nz for road closures.