Regional | Flooding

Te Karaka residents self-evacuating; Te Tai Rāwhiti state of emergency declared

Te Tai Rāwhiti Civil Defence has declared a state of emergency following heavy rain in the region today raising river levels.

The region is also one of several under a red heavy rain warning issued by Metservice.

Earlier, residents in Te Karaka were asked to self-evacuate to Te Karaka Area School as the Waipaoa River headed towards 7.5m and rain continues to fall.

Te Karaka was severely impacted by floods caused by Cyclone Gabrielle in February, with residents forced to flee to a nearby hill in the middle of the night to avoid been caught by the rapidly rising river.

State Highway 2 is closed between Ormond and Matawai, cutting off the main route between Gisborne and Ōpōtiki.

Te Tai Rāwhiti Emergency Management Manager Ben Green says the Orange heavy rain warning is expected to be raised to Red this afternoon, with sustained rainfall expected across the entire region until noon Sunday.

“If you live by a river and you’re concerned, please make a decision to evacuate during daylight hours.

“Rivers are already very high in our region and could reach evacuation thresholds."

An alert issued to residents at 1pm said the Waipaoa River was at 7.3m, just 200mm lower than the evacuation level.

At 1pm, You should have received the message from Gisborne District Council's Flood Warnings below (screenshot). - If...

Posted by Waikohu Civil Defence on Wednesday, June 21, 2023

“The water table is also very high in our region and this extra rain over the weekend will cause surface flooding.

“Our roads are still fragile and we ask everyone to please take extra care and drive to the conditions.

“Please also watch for land movement on your property as we have already had reports of landslips around the city.”

Mr Green says river levels are being closely monitored and are updated every half an hour on the council’s website.

Check Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Facebook page for updates.