Widespread flooding, road closures as storm delivers final punch
Officials from multiple agencies are mobilising to assess welfare needs, electricity, roading and other infrastructural damage as wild weather delivered its final anticipated overnight blow causing widespread flooding in Northland.
Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says the weather essentially unfolded as predicted by forecasters, including dumping up to 128mm in the upper Waitangi catchment between 3pm yesterday and 6am today. Rainfall intensities of up to 36mm an hour were recorded in the upper hills at Towai.
The weather has now finally moved away from Northland which is expected to get some respite today and tomorrow, although storm-filled rivers are expected to continue to remain in flood this weekend before water can finally drain away. (Parts of the region have received huge amounts of rain between 8am Tuesday and 6am today with up to 524mm falling at Puhipuhi and 475.5mm in the upper Waitangi catchment.)
Mr MacDonald says officials began heading out to assess the situation at first light today with issues including significant flooding at Moerewa, Kawakawa and Kaeo and multiple flooding-related road closures, including on parts of the State Highway network.
Northpower also reported new feeder faults affecting areas near Dargaville and Hukerenui. It estimates 570 customers are without power - 299 on the high voltage network and the others on low voltage lines. Top Energy, which supplies the Far North District, is also grappling with power cuts, with some customers without power now for several days.
Mr MacDonald says among key tasks today will be to assess welfare needs – particularly for those in isolated spots or who have been without power for several days – as well as checking electricity, roading and other infrastructural damage.
While agencies would be checking communities for welfare issues throughout the day, district council Civil Defence personnel are also able to refer those in need to the appropriate agency.
Those requiring assistance in the Far North should contact the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 or in the Whangarei district, the Whangarei District Council on 0800 932 463.
Mr MacDonald says Ministry of Social Development offices would also be open in Kaitaia, Kerikeri and Kaikohe from 8.30am today.
Meanwhile, he says people should again stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary today due to flooding and other issues.
Information about any ongoing 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
Those sites contain maps and brief description of closed/affected roads and an indication of when the issue/s involved is likely to be resolved.
Weather-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