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Flood clean-up under way as sun shines on Gisborne

Flood clean-up under way as sun shines on Gisborne

Residents, local businesses, Gisborne District Council and forestry company staff have been today helping people affected by flooding in the Gisborne area over the past two weeks.

The government has called the two floods – one at Queen’s Birthday Weekend and another on Monday this week – a medium-scale adverse event.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management deputy recovery manager Patrick Willock said this means a number of initiatives are available to support people affected by flooding through their homes and properties.

“We can tap into these initiatives to aid the district’s recovery. Rural support is available in the form of Enhanced Taskforce Green, funding for recovery coordination, psychosocial care, community events and rural assistance payments.

“But before we can do this, we are still busy trying to assess where these support measures are most needed. As we get offers of help – and there have been many – we are working to match them with the people and their needs.

“Access remains a big problem – the roads themselves affected by slips and debris, and even access on to paddocks. We are monitoring what’s happened and matching assistance with those who can use it on a priority basis.”

Mr Willock said it was not just the farming people in need of support.

“We also have a number of residents and small block holders in rural communities who have been severely affected at Mangatokerau, Paroa, Tauwhareparae and Arakihi roads. We also have families cut off and isolated because of the nearly 30 road closures.”

Emergency manager Louise Bennett said many residents and their whanau have already started the clean-up themselves.

“This morning, we had crews from Ernslaw helping clean up and Tolaga Bay Fire and Emergency staff have also been helping clean up the silt from houses.

“We have a welfare team working to support people affected by flooding. This is part of Civil Defence’s role. We are in charge of recovery. We deal with the social and cultural, natural environment, property and infrastructure, and the economic effects of any event, in this case two floods in quick succession.”

Work and Income may provide financial assistance to farming and non-farming families whose incomes have been affected by adverse events. This may include the unemployment benefit, emergency benefit and special needs grants. (See contact below).

“Safety is paramount. That’s why roads and bridges have been closed until they are deemed safe to drive over.”

The closed roads are Rakauroa, Tauwhareparae, Pehiri, Kiore, Ihungia, Arakihi, Takapau, West Ho Road, Fernside, Tuakau, Waiau, Hokoroa, Mata, Bruce (Kanakanaia), Totangi; Tiniroto, Motu, Waimata Valley, Paroa, Kanakanaia, Ellmers (Hangaroa), Bailie, Utting, Bushy Knoll, Waitahaia, Swarbrick, Tikapa and Te Kowhai Bridge Road.

Gisborne District Council, Tairawhiti Roads and their contractors are working to open the roads to allow families access out of the isolated areas, and also to allow access to Eastland Network crews who are working to restore power to those without. Helicopters have been used in some cases to fly Eastland Network staff into cut-off areas to reconnect the power.

About 150 properties are without power late this morning, mainly at the top of Tauwhareparae Road and Mata Road.

“People isolated because of closed roads can contact council. They don’t need to rely on people walking over slips to get supplies in. We can help.

“Tonight, Civil Defence will be briefed on what roads are still closed and then the team can prioritise the work that needs to happen so we can support people in these areas.”

Tairawhiti Roads journey manager Helen Harris said people with urgent needs to enter closed roads that are being manned can apply to Gisborne District Council for access.

“The approval of the request will be based on risk. We still have significant risks on our network with slips still coming down, dropouts and power lines on roads. We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage.”

For updated information on road closures, please check the NZTA and GDC websites for road closures.
https://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic-and-travel-information/ http://www.gdc.govt.nz/road-information/
Useful contacts:
Rural Support Trust co-ordinator David Scott 027 2119941
Work and Income 0800 559 009

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