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Heavy rainfall impact significant

Mahia EC Road

Last week’s heavy rainfall event caused significant damage in the Whakaki, Nuhaka and Mahia areas, with 19 properties sustaining damage and receiving Rapid Building Assessment placards.

At Mahia, a permanent home and a temporary residence were both red stickered, prohibiting entry, and a neighbouring property was yellow stickered, restricted entry. At Nuhaka, six residences and the Nuhaka School, Kahungunu Marae and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were all yellow stickered and three were white stickered (minimal damage). In Whakaki, two houses were yellow stickered; on Frasertown Road, near the Awatere Stream one home was yellow stickered and a shed was white stickered.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says his heart goes out to those people who suffered in last week’s heavy rain event. “Our district has had such a pummelling from the 2022 weather events and Cyclone Gabrielle earlier in the year, and it is just so sad to see more people, properties and roads affected by flooding and slipping.

“Council is on board, working across the areas that it can, to try and support our communities. When a natural disaster causes damage, Councils have a statutory and community obligation to carry out Rapid Building Assessments under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and Building Act 2004. It is heartbreaking to have added this many new properties to the extensive list we already had from Cyclone Gabrielle.

“I am particularly concerned about the Nuhaka School and its students. The school was relocated to the LDS Chapel at Nuhaka after flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle. Last week’s heavy rain has now flooded the chapel, causing the school to be again displaced. This is very disruptive for the students and whānau and Council is working with our partners to find a solution.”

Wairoa Civil Defence Controller Juanita Savage said the heavy rainfall event had a significant localised impact. Thank you to the local emergency responders, welfare support and Civil Defence response. This was locals helping impacted locals, and we are very grateful for the support we received and proud of our community.”

Meanwhile, a dropout on the 5.4km mark on the Mahia East Coast Road has reduced the road to a single lane under traffic management. Geotechnical engineers have been on site to assess the situation, and drivers are urged to please drive to the conditions and observe the temporary speed limits.

Wairoa District Council also reminds people who live or work near cliffs and steep slopes (escarpments) of the need to take a precautionary approach to landslide risks.

Mr Little said there was significant slipping and ground slumpage at Mahia along the East Coast Road and Brown’s Rise. This was caused by heavy rainfall and demonstrates the potential and genuine risk. This affected land remains unstable, and extreme caution is advised.

Residents throughout the district, particularly Mahia, who live near cliffs and steep slopes, should be alert for any signs of instability, particularly after heavy rain. This includes movements of trees or the slope, cracks in the earth, ground slumpage, or loose dislodged rocks and boulders suspended in vegetation on the escarpment face.

“We know that most landslides in our district are triggered by heavy rain on moderate to steep saturated ground. Landslides can also be triggered following a long period of wet weather. When there are heavy rainfall warnings in place, or when we’ve been on the receiving end of large downpours, people whose homes or workplaces are near escarpments should keep a close watch on the local situation.

If there is very heavy rain over an extended period, residents of properties near escarpments should consider evacuating until the weather clears.

Residents at the top of escarpments should monitor the ground adjacent to the escarpment edge for any sign of ground cracks or tree instability and contact the Council with any concerns.

If your dwelling has been impacted by last week’s heavy rain event, please contact the Wairoa District Council on 06 838 7309 to arrange an assessment with the building team.

14 November 2023

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