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Residents prepare to return home as floods ease

Rain that raised river levels and caused slips on the East Coast has eased overnight, allowing people evacuated yesterday to prepare to return home.

About 500 people faced being cut off in the East Coast town of Te Karaka yesterday, as roads were swamped by flooding and further downpours loomed.

Te Karaka residents were told to evacuate homes by 4pm or stay put for the night.

Today, the region’s Civil Defence head John Davies said homes and most roads had been spared damage from flooding overnight.

“It continued to rain, but like yesterday the rain was a lot lighter than expected and the weather forecast has downgraded the amount of rain that we were going to be receiving,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“This morning we’re finding all the rivers are dropping down on their levels and everything’s looking a lot healthier and it looks like people will be able to go about their normal business.”

All those who had been evacuated would be able to go home, Mr Davies said.

Gisborne police told NZPA State Highway 35 between Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay was still closed due to flooding but all other roads had reopened.

The AA was warning drivers to take care on SH35 at Busby’s Hill, as a slip had blocked one of the lanes.

Further south, heavy rain had also caused slips on SH5 between Napier and Taupo, and SH2 between Napier and Wairoa, but both roads remained open.

Most of the country faces a couple of dry days before another wet, windy weekend, particularly in Auckland.

WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan said rain would ease for most of the country today and tomorrow, but another low could spell trouble for those already suffering in the Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and the East Cape. “Any large low that tracks behind another one means flood danger,” he said.

Gisborne’s Civil Defence emergency operation was activated about 9.30am yesterday, as rivers rose past warning levels.

Nine residents were evacuated from Maungatuna, where three people died in floodwaters during 1988’s Cyclone Bola.

More than a dozen people were expected to be evacuated from the settlements of Anaura Bay, Nuhiti and Kaiaua, north of Tolaga bay. Floodwaters also threatened to close State Highway 35 and the Hikuwai River came near to bursting its banks.



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