Aerial images show extent of Tairāwhiti flooding

Latest developments as Tairāwhiti region is hit by floods:

What do you want to know

– A state of emergency has been declared in Tairāwhiti after rising river levels prompted the evacuation of some East Coast residents overnight.

– State Highway 35 north of Tolaga Bay was closed due to flooding.

– Tairāwhiti Civil Defense evacuated residents from several areas including Mangatuna, Tokomaru Bay and Tologa Bay.

– A red weather warning has been issued for Tairāwhiti, with more heavy rain expected Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday.

– Emergency teams were called to Rotorua after heavy rain overnight.

Live updates

2:25 p.m.: Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said the rain had started again and the area needed to prepare for more to come.

1:15 p.m.: Debris and mud cover sections of the road between Tologa Bay and Tokomaru Bay, making it nearly impassable other than by 4×4.

1:05 p.m.: Eastern Bay of Plenty and northern Gisborne have been added to the severe thunderstorm watch.

12:50 p.m.: Uawa Civil Defense says Anaura Bay, north of Tologa Bay, “struggled a bit” in the inclement weather.

12:30 p.m.: Images captured by the Trust Tairawhiti Eastland Helicopter rescue helicopter show some of the extent of the flood damage in the area.

He left Tologa Bay after helping Fire and Emergency New Zealand and New Zealand Police check flooded areas.

They picked up two individuals from the top of a backhoe in the river at the exit of Anaura Bay. Both men were found safe and were transported to the waiting fire brigade and ambulance.

12:20 p.m.: MetService has created this helpful animation showing what heavy rain warnings look like on the ground.

12:15 p.m.: Rotorua sewerage service provider TRILITY, Fulton Hogan and Council staff responded to two sewage overflows in the town this morning caused by heavy rain overnight.

Sampling is underway to understand the impact of overflows on the network. However, with the amount of rain over the past 24 hours, it is likely that contaminants in the storm system will be higher overall.

Toi Te Ora Public Health’s advice is to avoid waterways for 48 hours after heavy rains due to potential contamination from rural and urban runoff.

12:00 p.m.: Civil Defense Comptroller Dave Wilson gave the update, urging East Coast residents to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

“Don’t complicate our work by driving,” he says.

Evacuees are being cared for at a number of locations, including the local marae and school in Tologa Bay.

Contractors are on the way to help with power lines and fallen trees. Bridges and abutments were also damaged or washed away.

Wilson says Civil Defense is concerned about the expected further rain and will monitor it overnight.

“Please make a plan. If you are worried or in doubt, get out,” he said, asking anyone with nowhere to go to contact Civil Protection.

“As always, it’s humbling to see everyone looking out for each other. Our Civil Defense volunteers overnight, they’ve been up all night knocking on doors to make sure that our whānau are safe. So huge mihi for them.”

11:40 a.m.: 1News Reporter Cushla Norman is on the outskirts of Tologa Bay where they are waiting for crews to repair power lines that have fallen on the road.

11:35 a.m.: Gisborne District Council has updated the list of roads closed due to flooding and other issues.

11:30 a.m.: Jarred Moroney, managing director of Eastland Network, says around 650 customers are still without power in Tairāwhiti.

Crews have just restored power south of Tokomaru, including Arthur Street, and are working to fix whatever other outages they can reach.

Efforts to restore power are hampered by access issues, with roads flooded or closed. Eastland crews have been working to find other ways to safely reach and fix the faults.

Falling trees and flood waters have caused a number of poles and lines to fall and people are urged to exercise caution as they could be under tension.

10:50 a.m.: Emergency teams were called to Rotorua after heavy rain overnight.

48mm of rain fell between midnight and 9am this morning, according to the Rotorua Lakes Council.

The Bay of Plenty area is still under a heavy rain warning until 9pm Wednesday evening and a further 25mm of rain is forecast for today.

More than a dozen floods have been reported so far and the Council urges people to contact them with any weather-related issues on 07 348 4199.

10:30 a.m.: Roads have been turned into rivers in some areas, including the small town of Mangatuna, where people are being evacuated in boats and by a rescue helicopter.

10:15 a.m.: A red weather warning has been issued for Tairāwhiti – the highest alert level for heavy rain.

10:10 a.m.: Civil Defense provided an update on the situation in Tairāwhiti.

– People were evacuated from their homes in Mangatuna, Uawa, Anaura Bay, Kaiaua, Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay, with some self-evacuating.

– State Highway 35 is closed from Okitu north, with the Tokomaru Bay Bridge washed away. Several local roads are also closed.

– Some of the rainfall figures have exceeded levels of one in 100 years, with Te Puia having 236mm between 6pm and midnight.

– The upper Hikuwai River has seen 234mm in the past 24 hours. Mata at the source of the Waiapu receiving 234 mm and of the Hikuwai at Willowflat 222 mm.

– The Hikuwai River peaked at 12.8m and although it is falling, more rain is expected later in the night.

A washed out Tokomaru Bay bridge on State Highway 35. The gap is about six feet wide.

– A person was successfully rescued from a car that ended up in the river of Tokomaru Bay.

– Power lines are down on the roads with many slips and people are encouraged to be careful of the lines on the roads.

– Dave Wilson, Group Comptroller for Tairāwhiti Civil Defence, who declared a state of emergency at 6.30am, asks people to stay off the roads and urges people to call damage and flooding on 0800 653 800 of the Council.

10:00 a.m.: Te Aotawarirangi Kohanga Reo at Waima Point, about 3 km from Tokomaru Bay, was damaged by flooding.

9:45 a.m.: The Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust is in Tolaga Bay helping Fire and Emergency New Zealand check flooded areas and retrieve stranded people where road access is not available.

Country Helicopters checks power lines and Ashworth Helicopters helps.

9:35 a.m.: Residents of Gisborne are warned to expect a further 150-200mm of rain between 10am and 7am Thursday.

Peak flow rates of 30 to 55 mm/h are expected.

9:10 a.m.: MetService warns that Gisborne is not yet out of the woods and could see further heavy rain this afternoon.

9:05 a.m.: Residents of Tokomaru Bay sent in images of the Mangahauini Bridge, which was badly damaged and no traffic can cross.

The Mangahauini Bridge in Tokomaru Bay.

9:00 a.m.: SH35 between Gisborne and Potaka remains closed and motorists are urged to delay travel until slips and washouts can be cleared up.

8:30 a.m.: Emergency Management Minister Kiritapu Allan told Breakfast that the state of emergency powers came into effect at 6.30am this morning. Allan says if the Hikuwai make a breach, the area will experience “a pretty significant period” of recovery and urges locals to stay home.

Debris on Beach Rd, Tokomaru Bay, north of Wereta St.

Earlier this morning: State Highway 35 north of Tolaga Bay was also closed due to flooding.

The NZTA advises motorists to consider SH2 as a detour route and allow extra time for travel. An update will be provided when the road condition changes.

Fire and Emergency NZ said they responded to a landslide in the area and a car submerged in water.

Police say a man trapped in his car after a utility pole fell on Waipu Rd in Tokomaru Bay this morning has been rescued.

However, there are two power poles on Waipu Road in Tokumaru Bay, and the road is impassable. The road will be closed south of Te Puia Springs.

Another person was rescued at 2.30am after being trapped in their car completely submerged in water.

Police said they received reports of multiple slips and road closures on the East Coast.

Uawa Civil Defense Emergency Manager Greg Shelton told 1News that the Hikuwai and Uawa rivers are up to 12 meters high, Uawa typically flows just one meter high.

Allan says that if the Hikuwai make a breach, the region will experience “a pretty significant recovery period.”

Civil Defense is looking to deploy a helicopter in daylight. Shelton said “it’s going to be pretty ugly.”

Tui Soutar, a Tolaga Bay resident, told 1News she was relieved to have gone shopping earlier in the week because the city was shut down.

“We don’t know when we will be able to get into Gisborne supermarkets. But we have our supermarkets here so hopefully they can stay open.”

She was up all night because of the conditions.

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