Hawke's Bay flooding "worse than Bola"


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Hawke's Bay farmers face stock losses as rain continues to pound the region.

Federated Farmers said a number of inland farms had been severely inundated and stock had almost certainly been lost.

Farms well inland from Napier had been drenched by 200mm of rain with one station near Waipawa, recording 500mm, its statement said.

A farm near Aramoana reported a substantial loss of pasture and one reported damage to almost all its fences and the loss of a farm dam.

"At this early stage it does seem to be a major, if geographically tight, adverse event."

Locals say the flooding is some of the worst to hit the region.

Dennis Bell, who has farmed close to Aramoana Beach for 41 years, said the flooding was "devastating".

"My father showed me photos of the famous 1938 flood - and this is far worse," Mr Bell told Hawkes Bay Today.

It was definitely "worse than Bola", which struck the region in 1988.

"The problem is we'll have to de-stock ... I've lost about 30 per cent of my grazing paddocks."

The financial loss was "impossible" to assess.

Slips close roads

Major slips on State Highway 2, between Napier and Wairoa, have forced the closure of the road in the wake of heavy rain and flooding in Hawke's Bay.

State Highway 2, north of Napier, was closed until further notice, New Zealand Transport Agency acting state highways manager Gordon Hart said.

Road crews were working to clear the multiple slips but the highway was not likely to reopen until tomorrow evening at the earliest, he said.

SH50 at Breakwater Road near the Port of Napier was also closed due to a large slip.

Mr Broadley said the extent of the damage to roads and the electricity supply was being assessed from the air, and police and Civil Defence staff would evacuate those identified as most at risk.

State of emergency

A state of local emergency was this morning declared for the Central Hawke's Bay District due to the severe flooding over the past two days in the region.

The Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is leading the emergency response with support from the National Crisis Management Centre, based at the Beehive in Wellington.

A heavy rain warning for the region has been lifted but 25mm-40mm of rain is expected to fall north of Napier over the next 24 hours.

Central Hawke's Bay District Council spokesman Drew Broadley this afternoon said a massive cleanup job lay ahead after an assessment of coastal areas confirmed extensive damage due to torrents of water, mud and silt.

Road damage would take weeks to repair to a safe standard but basic access could be restored to coastal settlements within about three days.

Three coastal settlements remain cut off with people still being evacuated.

A review of damage this morning, which included an aerial assessment, indicated the highest priority areas were Aramoana, Kairakau and Mangakuri, currently the most isolated settlements along the coast.

Four people would be evacuated from Aramoana, 30 from Kairakau and 15 from Mangakuri, he said.

People from the coastal community of Pourerere had already been evacuated but some residents had chosen to stay, he said.

A welfare centre had been set up at the Memorial Hall in Waipukurau.

Overnight, 10 homes in Napier were evacuated following a large slip.

Police said some of the hillside has come down on Breakwater Road, which runs past Napier Port.

The slip, which came down about 12.45am, blocked both lanes of Breakwater Road as well as the nearby railway line, Civil Defence spokeswoman Monique Jeffares said.

"The homes above the slip in Seapoint and Hornsby roads have been evacuated as a precautionary measure," she said.

"Most evacuees are staying with family and friends, although Napier Civil Defence did provide accommodation for a family of five."

Contractors were this morning working to clear the slip and building inspectors were assessing the land and evacuated properties.

Yesterday, around 100 people were evacuated from several isolated coastal towns south of Napier.

- Newstalk ZB, NZPA, Hawkes Bay Today, NZ Herald staff