With the easing of rain over night, river levels falling, and flood waters going down, Ōpōtiki and the eastern Bay start clean-up operations.
The rainfall event saw more than 300mm of rain accumulate in some areas in just 48 hours. In the Ōpōtiki town centre, rainfall levels were around an average month compressed into just a day.
With the rain came significant surface flooding and dangerous road conditions. State Highways 2 between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne and State Highway 35 towards Tōrere were closed briefly (now re-opened with caution and down to one lane in parts).
Ōpōtiki District Council spokesperson, Gerard McCormack said that clean-up operations were well underway and Council was getting a handle on the extent of the damage.
“There is still a lot of ponding around the District and it will be a few days before debris is cleared and damage repaired. We have pumps operating to drain parts of the township and some roads are still closed, particularly in rural areas. Our crews are getting to grips with the situation and we have a helicopter up to get a better view of some of the hard-to-reach places such as Otara upper catchment.
“The wastewater pumps kept working through the event but with the massive amount of water, things were just too full and there was nowhere for the water to go. The system capacity is slowly recovering and will take a bit of time due to high ground water levels,” Mr McCormack said.
The river systems held up well. With the Otara at highest ever recorded levels, coinciding with a high tide yesterday evening, the town stopbanks held up although some banks overtopped in rural areas.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Flood Duty Manager, Graeme O’Rourke said that the team were in planning mode for more possible extreme weather later in the week.
“The Rangitāiki is the last river to get back to normal. As per normal protocols, we have worked closely with Trustpower to use the capacity of the Matahina Lake to even out the river flows through the last few days. There is a second peak coming down the river now [subs midday 13 Feb] but that is well within the river capacity so we are not expecting any issues.
“We are now turning our eyes to a possible future event with quite a few models showing Gita making landfall somewhere nationally later in the week. We’ll get more certainty on that over the coming days so at the moment it is a matter of keeping an eye on the situation across the region and modelling different scenarios,” Mr O’Rourke said.
Live monitoring information is available on the Council website and the best place for the latest information including road closures and portaloo locations are on the Ōpōtiki District Council Facebook page.
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