Post-storm recovery enters third day
Northland’s post-storm mop up entered its third day today with good progress being made addressing infrastructural issues – including roading, water and power – and continuing emphasis on meeting the welfare needs those most-heavily impacted on.
Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says as part of the response people who need assistance are being urged to make themselves known to those who can help.
In the Far North, anyone whose home is flooded or who urgently needs accommodation, food, heating, clothing or medical supplies should phone Far North District Council's freephone 0800 920 029 in the first instance. (The Whangarei District Council has a similar service for those needing help in its district; 0800 932 463.)
Officials are continuing to work with flood-affected families in the Moerewa area, where firefighters had worked until about 11.30pm yesterday, pumping out about 1200 cubic metres of water. Waste collection and temporary toilets had been provided and local authority building inspectors are continuing to visit properties in the area.
As part of the ongoing recovery efforts, development of a temporary 'one stop shop' for flood victims staffed by multiple agencies is also under consideration in nearby Kawakawa.
Meanwhile, Mr MacDonald says while most in the region now had power restored, electricity companies Top Energy and Northpower are asking those who did not – especially in less populated areas – to contact them to ensure the companies are aware of their problems.
Top Energy's fault line number is 0800 867 363 and Northpower's 0800 10 40 40.
Top Energy reported today it still had about 200 customers without power, roughly half of them in 14 main areas, while Northpower was today assessing a schedule to permanently repair parts of is network that had been temporarily repaired in the interim.
With some of few remaining electricity-less Top Energy customers facing the prospect of several more days without power, it would today be proactively working with the FNDC and others to make sure welfare needs are being met.
Mr MacDonald says the power companies repeated earlier calls for anyone coming across downed power lines to treat them as live at all time, stay away from them and report them to ensure they were logged for action.
He says the region's State Highway network was open this morning, bar SH1 south of Kawakawa, where a large slip had cut road access on a crest between two hilltops.
Roading authorities were diverting traffic along Mangakahia Rd, which extends from Maungatapere, near Whangarei, in the south, to Kaikohe in the North. (While there is another alternative route through Ruapekapeka Rd, that is not recommended by authorities. The Ruapekapeka Rd route is only available to light vehicles and heavy traffic is banned from using it.)
Mr MacDonald says the NZTA is working on building a temporary diversion around the slip site but that could involve at least five days' work.
He says the roading body plans to work to reopen an old road alignment (about two to three metres lower than the site which had slipped) but it would need to be cleared and built up.
It hoped to install an asphalt surface on what would be at least a single lane (but hopefully two) suitable for all traffic and controlled by signals as its temporary fix. A longer term solution could take months.
Information about local district council road and State Highway closures/issues in Northland is available from the Automobile Association website via www.AAroadwatch.co.nz or the NZTA website www.nzta.govt.nz
On the water front, the Far North District Council reported restrictions are still in place, but public water supplies in Paihia, Haruru Falls and Opua areas, which had been critically low, had recovered slightly overnight. The public is still being urged to only use water if absolutely necessary.
A spokesman says heavy siltation at its Waitangi River water supply intake has seriously restricted the treatment plant's capacity to process water causing reservoirs servicing the area are running low.
The spokesman paid tribute to its contractors, Top Energy and others who had done a fantastic job keeping the water supply on in trying circumstances over the past few days.
Mr MacDonald says the Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 – is working to support flood-affected farmers and Northland horticulturists whose crops had been impacted.
He says it is still early days in the recovery phase and officials are still working to get a more accurate assessment of the likely cost of the storm, one of the most damaging to hit the region in years.
Mr MacDonald says Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye had visited the region yesterday and it was very clear to all parties that even at this early stage the recovery process will be a prolonged one which could take a number of months and run into millions.
He says recovery and other storm-related information will also continue to be posted as required, including on the Northland CDEM Group's Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland and the Northland Regional Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence