7:28 – Tolaga Bay Civil Defense Director Greg Shelton told AM on Wednesday that the area is currently experiencing rain, lightning and thunder as the savage weather damages infrastructure in the area.
“We have a lot of bridges with one or two meter gaps, so basically all the infrastructure on the coast is closed at the moment,” he told AM. “It’s by flooding the bridges and washing out the whole road.”
Shelton said the Hikuwai River is currently at 12.6 meters, well above its normal height of 1.5 meters.
“At first we were looking at 40 cm per hour [of rain]we got to half a meter for every hour that passed,” he said.
“We are currently at 12.6 meters and considering that the Hikuwai River normally flows at 1.5 meters, 12.6 is well above where we were during Cyclone Bola.
“It hasn’t stabilized for a few hours now and the rain is still falling with lightning and thunder.”
Shelton said half a dozen residents have been evacuated from the Mangatuna area while two road workers are trapped in floodwaters 12 kilometers north of Tologa Bay.
“We currently have two road workers trapped in a backhoe. We cannot send a helicopter to them, so at the moment we are getting a search and rescue team from Gisborne,” he said.
“I hope they can get up here with their boats and join these people in time.”