All you need to know: Latest Bay of Plenty road closures, Cyclone Gabrielle weather updates

All the information you need to know as Cyclone Gabrielle hits Auckland from AEM, Metservice and Auckland Council. Video / NZ Herald / AEM / Auckland Council

KiwiRail has closed its rail network in the upper North Island, additional St. John personnel have been deployed and Tauranga’s Emergency Operations Center has been put into operation as Cyclone Gabrielle hits the Bay of Plenty.

From Katikati to Whakatāne, including Tauranga and Rotorua, between 9am and 3pm on Tuesday, between 120 and 180mm of rain was forecast.

Heavy rain could cause streams and rivers to surge rapidly, causing flooding and landslides.

Strong south-easterly winds were forecast as of Tuesday 09:00, with severe gusts of up to 120 km/h to 130 km/h and possibly higher in exposed areas.


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The strongest period was expected tomorrow afternoon.

power outages

Thousands of people from Waiau in Coromandel to Te Aroha in Waikato are without power, the Powerco website showed.

On Sunday evening, the Hauraki district council urged residents on Facebook to save water.

The Kerepēhi Water Treatment Plant was operational as soon as a generator was activated and the pumps started working again, meaning that water pressure and flow improved.


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Council replies

Due to warnings of heavy rain and high winds, Tauranga City Council set up its Emergency Response Center tonight.

Staff and contractors were “keeping an eye on the situation and were ready to respond to any issues,” the council said online.

“If you live in low-lying areas prone to flooding, including the coast and port, please take steps to protect yourself and your property as there is a risk of flooding and erosion from storm surges.

“Be prepared to first evacuate yourself to family and friends if necessary. If evacuation of people is required, please obey all Bay of Plenty Civil Defense instructions.”

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Emergency shelters would be activated as needed and details provided.

Links Ave will be open to all traffic on Mondays and Tuesdays to help flow traffic around Mount Maunganui.

The collections planned for Monday at Kerbside will be carried out as usual.

The council exhausted their stock of sandbags today and had no more available, but would have an update tomorrow morning.

Rotorua Lakes Council’s civil protection and emergency management team worked to plan and prepare for how the city would respond to the cyclone.

In a statement, it advised residents to prepare for severe weather and follow civil defense instructions.


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“There are still unknowns about exactly how the cyclone will affect New Zealand, so it’s important to stay abreast of changing forecasts and to prepare and respond accordingly,” it said.

“At this point (1pm) the cyclone is likely to cause storm surges that will significantly impact coastal communities. Coastal areas and large lakes can be affected by storm surges, flooding and extreme tides.”

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council said more rain and strong winds are expected to make the situation worse in areas already vulnerable after the latest weather bomb.

“There will also be heavy swells for eastern areas and a storm surge of almost half a meter in addition to swell and wind waves,” it said online.

“Because the ground is already soaked, trees are more likely to fall, which could cause power outages.”

railway line closures

The wind and rain warnings prompted KiwiRail to close its rail network in the upper half of the North Island tonight, chief operations officer Siva Sivapakkiam said.


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No freight services would operate from Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty as the railway lines from Auckland to nearby Marton would be closed.

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“By closing these parts of the grid, we ensure commuters and our employees are not exposed to potentially dangerous conditions,” Sivapakkiam said.

“We appreciate the understanding of passengers and our customers and will review the situation tomorrow.”

On January 29, a freight train derailed near Te Puke after going through a flooded section of track.

The incident happened around 5:30 a.m. after heavy rains fell in the area. The two crew members of the train were not injured.

Response of the emergency services

The National Ambulance Service has deployed additional resources in the Coromandel, Northland and Auckland areas, said Hato Hone St John ambulance controller Stu Cockburn.


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“In the Coromandel, we have increased staffing and volunteer First Response Units are ready to assist if needed.

“We are working with other allied healthcare providers and have identified community-based care options should patient transportation become problematic.”

New Zealand Defense Force Unimogs were available along with a number of other St John 4WD vehicles.

“We remain flexible and responsive [community] needs as this situation evolves and it becomes clearer where our resources will be most useful,” said Cockburn.

“However, it is important that we continue to prioritize safety and not respond in conditions that could endanger our staff or our patients, meaning there may be instances where we are simply unable to go to our patients to get.

“We will ensure that measures are in place to provide telephone support and advice and use telemedicine providers where appropriate until access is achieved.

Gavin Travers, national manager of Fire and Emergency’s New Zealand communications centers, said today crews responded to a slow but steady stream of calls for help as winds picked up and fallen trees impacted properties and the lifting of roofs.

road closures

State Highway 29A was closed near Omanawa today after a two-vehicle crash, but has reopened.

Police were called to the incident around 4.30pm and initial indications were that one person could be injured.

Cyclone Gabrielle hits Whangarei.  Photo / Michael Cunningham
Cyclone Gabrielle hits Whangarei. Photo / Michael Cunningham

On Saturday, Waka Kotahi National Emergency Response Team spokesman Mark Owen urged people to avoid all non-essential travel in the upper North Island.

“MetService has multiple weather alerts and clocks for the Upper North Island and we urge people to stay current with the latest forecasts.

“Heavy rain and high winds are likely to hit Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.


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“Many roads in these areas were damaged by the previous storm, the ground is already softened and they are particularly vulnerable to slides, flooding and closures.”

Assault tips for civil defense

  • Stay up to date with MetService weather forecasts.
  • Keep grab bags ready for everyone in your family. These should include short-term essential supplies such as medication, snacks, water, flashlights, pet food and baby food (if needed).
  • Remove any debris or loose items from your property and tie down heavy items outdoors. If you have a trampoline, turn it upside down to minimize the surface area exposed to the wind.
  • Clear debris and leaves from external drains and gutters to prevent overflow or water damage during heavy rain.
  • Check on your neighbors and anyone who might need your help.
  • Power outages can affect EFTPOS and ATMs and cause internet outages. So make sure you have some cash at home or food and water for 3 days and a battery operated radio to keep up to date.


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