Up to 80 people are being evacuated from their homes from north of Tolaga Bay, as river levels on the East Coast continue to rise.
The Hikuwai River is heading towards 12 metres, and will overflow the bank at 13 metres.
Gisborne Civil Defence spokeswoman Sheridan Gundry says several dozen people have left their homes in Te Karaka, but most of the 500 residents will stay behind. She says Waipaua River is rising and could cut off access roads into the township.
Gisborne’s Civil Defence emergency operation was activated about 9.30am today as rivers around the Poverty Bay and Uawa catchments rose past warning levels, in the face of continuing south-easterly rain.
Civil Defence and Emergency Management Ministry spokesperson, Vince Cholewa, said the situation is being “handled at a local level at the moment” and that the region’s Civil Defence has not requested national assistance.
“The situation is worsening with the rain continuing” said Civil Defence. “Mangatuna will be evacuated shortly and people in Te Karaka are being warned that they will be isolated by tonight”.
“There is extensive surface flooding around the city and Poverty Bay Flats. Rural school children have been sent home. People should only be travelling if absolutely necessary”.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says the low that brought yesterday’s heavy rain is now lying north east of East Cape and will stay their for the rest of today and for much of tomorrow driving in more heavy rain and wind.
The Gisborne District Council says rivers are predicted to rise to 80% full by Wednesday midday. “At this level low lying areas are likely to experience flooding. Once rivers rise above 50% district flood wardens will be contacted. They will maintain contact with those affected by flood waters”.
WeatherWatch.co.nz / NZHerald.co.nz