Heavy rain warnings issued for Hawke’s Bay

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In April, more than 40 roads were closed in the wider Tairāwhiti region due to skidding and flooding. And authorities say more bad weather is on the way.
Photo: Tairawiti Civil Defense

The heavy rain predicted could dramatically worsen already storm-damaged roads, with a weather warning for Hawke’s Bay starting tonight.

MetService has issued a heavy rain warning from 8pm tonight to 1pm Friday for all of Hawke’s Bay.

In a district council warning, people in remote areas of Central Hawke’s Bay were warned to stock up and be prepared in case bad weather cuts them off.

MetService said the heavy rain expected for the wider Hawke’s Bay could lead to skidding, surface flooding, sudden rises in streams and rivers and dangerous driving conditions.

“Expect 80 to 100mm of rain across the ranges and 40 to 70mm across the coast. Peak rates of 10 to 15mmh across the ranges,” MetService said.

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Beginning earlier than the heavy rain warning, the forecaster also issued a heavy rain warning for Gisborne and “roughly the mountain ranges north of Tolaga Bay” warned of periods of heavy rain starting at 3 p.m. today.

Hastings District Council issued a notice to residents that the rain could cause “a variety of problems, from skidding and flooding on roads, to hazardous conditions in our parks and reserves and an increase in flows in our stormwater and wastewater systems.

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City officials are closely monitoring the situation.

The latest weather warnings followed a bad year for infrastructure from storms for the region.

Storms in April closed more than 40 roads in the wider Hawke’s Bay region due to flooding and skidding.

More recent heavy rains only resulted in 35 major slips in the Central Hawke’s Bay District, the municipality said.

It estimated the damage already done could be as much as $33 million, as it judged it likely to be three times worse than the bad weather in 2011 that had caused more than $11 million in damage to the district’s roads.

The municipality warned that it will take some time before it is fully restored. The roads were in the worst condition they had been in decades, Central Hawke’s Bay mayor Alex Walker said.

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Earlier this month, the Wairoa District Council announced it had received an emergency construction grant of nearly $26 million to pay for 95 percent of the cost of repairing “devastating” weather damage to the road network caused by the storms of March and April.

Wairoa District Council mayor Craig Little said this meant an additional $1.35 million to be covered by the district.

Starting this month, Waka Kotahi plans to reseal or rebuild more than 10 percent of the country’s highways between September 2022 and April 2023, with major works planned for many regions, including Hawke’s Bay.

Neil Walker, Waka Kotahi’s National Operations Manager, said the particularly heavy winter rain meant the job was particularly big.

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