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Tolaga Bay family grateful to be safe after flooding

MEDIA RELEASE

Date/Time: Update 3

4 June 2018, 10am

Tolaga Bay family grateful to be safe after flooding

The family airlifted to safety at Tolaga Bay this morning are extremely grateful to be alive after a traumatic ordeal in which they “lost everything” to flooding. They had spent four hours on the roof of their home in the Mangatokerau Valley north of Tolaga Bay in what the four-year-old granddaughter said was “a cool adventure”.

The trio were airlifted off the roof together by the ECT Rescue Helicopter shortly before 9am. They had been on the roof since 4.30am. A paramedic stayed behind on the roof until the chopper returned on its second flight mission.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management group controller John Clarke said the three people were safe with whanau in Tolaga Bay.

“They have been on the roof for four hours and were very wet and cold. The young girl has been checked by paramedics and was all clear. The family is enjoying having a shower and relaxing after what would have been a traumatic time.”

Mr Clarke said he understood from the woman that floodwaters had swept away their woolshed, her partner’s work truck, her car, a digger, tractors and trailers. She said there was water everywhere. They could see no roads, no roofs and there was a just one huge water pool.

The water had flooded their home and had reached a metre from the ceiling. They had climbed on to a deck on the house and managed to get on to the roof to await rescue. They had phoned Gisborne District Council shortly before 4am. Fifteen minutes later they were fine. At 4.30am, they were on the roof. Emergency services were unable to reach them at that time.

Another two households about eight kilometres up the Tauwhareparae Road are also affected by flooding and are being checked from the air. About 20 people self-evacuated from houses around the area.

State Highway 2 at Mangatuna Road north of Tolaga Bay has been closed and at Whangara, where water has reached the bottom of the Waiomoko Bridge. Several families have moved out of their flooded properties and are safe with family and friends.

Rivers in the Tolaga Bay area had risen rapidly since midnight. Civil Defence believe the rivers have peaked and were now receding.

The rain is also believed to have affected residents this morning at Makorori Road and Okitu.

Motorists are advised to stay home unless travel is essential, and check the roads before travel.

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