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Gisborne keeping watching brief as rivers rise

Gisborne keeping watching brief as rivers rise

Gisborne Civil Defence Emergency Management team is preparing for several days of rain still to come this week as it keeps a close eye on Tolaga Bay’s Hikuwai River, Waimata River in the city and Te Arai River to the south.

Surface flooding and sewage overflows have caused the main concern in town to date. Several schools in Gisborne and Tolaga Bay closed early today and rural high school students were sent home early.

A number of minor district roads are closed but all State Highways in and out of the region remain open.

Gisborne Civil Defence controller Peter Higgs says the event could get serious with heavy rainfall predicted in the region through to Friday morning.

Over the past 12 hours, more than 100mm of rain has fallen in many areas on the north-eastern coastline of the district with more than 170mm in Mangapoike to the south-west.

The Uawa had reached 8.6m by 2pm but needs to reach 11m before the first evacuations are made. The Waimata River, which runs through the city, was rising gradually and was at 3.8m early this afternoon. This needs to reach 8m before residents begin to be notified.

Mr Higgs said at least 18 sewage-related issues had been reported to Gisborne District Council today but escape valves had been opened to relieve pressure in the system.

“The main advice at the moment is for motorists to take care on the roads, drive to the conditions and only travel if necessary.”

He advised people to check the Gisborne District Council website www.gdc.govt.nz for river levels and road closures. The site also has links to the NZTA website www.nzta.govt.nz for highway information.

Useful numbers: 08004HIGHWAYS (for highway closures); 0800 206207 for network issues; 06 8672049 (for Gisborne District Council)

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