29 Apr 2011

State of emergency called over Hawke's Bay flooding

5:09 am on 29 April 2011

A state of emergency continues in Central Hawke's as the region suffers the after-effects of one of the worst storms in living memory.

The National Crisis Management Centre at Parliament has also been activated to support the local Civil Defence response and to co-ordinate government support if it is needed.

National Controller David Coetzee says Hawke's Bay will lead the Civil Defence effort but the centre is on hand as back-up.

The state of emergency is expected to remain in place until at least Saturday.

The storm has caused millions of dollars of damage to roads, farms and coastal communities.

Eighty people were evacuated from coastal properties at Waimarama, Ocean Beach, Te Awanga and Clifton on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And on Wednesday evening 18 people had to leave their homes due to a large slip on Breakwater Road between Bluff Hill and the port.

The slip blocked the railway line as well as the road in both directions.

Building inspectors are being sent to the evacuated homes, and Civil Defence says the Earthquake Commission will supply geotechnical engineers.

The evacuees have been moved to a temporary welfare centre at a local school.

Mayor surveys damage

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler visited all the coastal communities on Thursday by helicopter to assess residents needs.

He says many properties are flooded or covered in silt and some baches and caravans are a write-off. A farm building had also been damaged beyond repair.

Mr Butler says the damage to roads is significant

Estimates put the cost of repair as high as $4 million and it may take months to get some roads back to normal.

SH2 closed

The Transport Agency is continuing to work to clear slips and debris on State Highway 2 between Napier and Wairoa.

The road will be closed until Friday night at the earliest.

Other more minor roads remain impassable because of slips and flooding.

The road to Ocean Beach is likely to remain closed until at least Friday morning but Clifton is accessible again, and Paul Evans of the Hastings District Council says there should be access to Waimarama soon.

A temporary bridge to Waimarama is likely to be installed and opened later on Thursday.

Mr Evans says the safety of the 80 people evacuated from coastal settlements is a top concern for the council. He says there will be monitoring during the day to help decide when they will be able to return to their homes.

Officials have been going from house to house in Te Awanga to make sure all residents are safe.