A New Zealand district is under a state of local emergency after ex-cyclone Hale’s wrath pushed a major river toward breaching its banks. The Tairāwhiti Civil Defence declared the emergency as the Hikuwai River has reached a height of 12.5 metres yesterday.
It was expected to reach 13 metres by midnight yesterday. Families are self-evacuating due to the risk of widespread flooding. At the time of this article’s publishing by the New Zealand Herald, 38 millimetres of rain had fallen in Hikuwai over the last hour.
The state of local emergency will expire in seven days unless authorities lift it earlier. MetService also issued warnings for heavy rain and strong winds as ex-cyclone Hale moves across the country. Nearly 400 residents were without power in Matawai with conditions being too dangerous for crews to check onsite. The Civil Defence authority also said the city’s sewer network is overwhelmed.
Civil Defence controller, Greg Shelton, says the rising river poses a major risk of thousands of hectares of farmland and property being damaged. He stated that the weather system was potentially one of the worst ones they have seen.
A major highway on the Coromandel Peninsula is also closed after slips blocked the road. State Highway 25A which links Kopu with Hikuai is now reportedly impassable. Contractors were reportedly on the scene with motorists being asked to follow the directions of emergency services.
Meanwhile, MetService is continuing to monitor whether the country will be hit with another cyclone next week. Currently, forecasts predict a storm will form in the tropics over the weekend and move towards the north island further east. But, it could also miss landfall completely. A MetService forecaster said it was still too far out to make any meaningful forecast as to where the cyclone could hit.