30 Apr 2011

Hawke's Bay storm clean-up will take weeks

7:34 am on 30 April 2011

Civil Defence says it will be weeks before access is restored to some communities in central Hawke's Bay following the two-day storm that caused flooding, damaging buildings and triggered landslides.

A state of emergency was declared after the storm, which brought up to 500mm of rain to some areas.

Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler believes three coastal farms he saw from a helicopter on Thursday had lost as much as 80% of their land through slips, which he says is a massive economic blow for farmers.

Mr Butler says boundary fences are gone and stock are able to wander freely.

He told Checkpoint the emergency powers are needed to ensure dangerous roads are not used and to deal with issues such as water supply, and he expects the state of emergency to remain in force until at least Monday.

Dozens of people have had to be evacuated from Waimarama, Ocean Beach, Te Awanga and Clifton and Kairakau Beach.

On Friday, Civil Defence completed the evacuations, bringing all residents out of Kairakau and Southern Pourerere Beach. Some residents were also evacuated from Mangamuri and Aramoana.

People wanting access to those areas or to Blackhead must apply to the district council's Civil Defence controller.

However Civil Defence says access to Aramoana could take three weeks to restore, and road access to the southern end of Pourerere Beach is closed indefinitely.

Experts have been looking at the stability of hillsides, and the information collected is being assessed.

Storm compared to Cyclone Bola

A number of buildings may need to be demolished because of damage from landslides.

Civil Defence controller Te Aroha Cook told Morning Report on Friday the storm was similar to Cyclone Bola in 1988 though the damage has been greater for some communities.

She said several baches and other houses had been hit by slips and landslides and some may not be occupied again, while others may have to be knocked down.

Food parcels were to be dropped to the Aramoana farming community on Friday.

The historic Aramoana Woolshed was badly damaged after part of a bluff above came down, moving the building off its foundations.

Central Hawke's Bay District Council said on Friday that soil around the region is saturated and a large slip behind the historic building was still moving.

Roads affected

State Highway 2 between Bay View and Wairoa which had been closed due to slips was re-opened on Friday.

Transport Agency acting highways manager Gordon Hart said clearing slips had been a difficult job and roading crews had to blast boulders to clear debris.