Kaitaia gets cut off once again

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Noble Tua (left) and Michael Wilcox abandoned their car and make their way to Kaeo on foot to stock up on essentials in case Cyclone Cook pushed floodwaters even higher.
Noble Tua (left) and Michael Wilcox abandoned their car and make their way to Kaeo on foot to stock up on essentials in case Cyclone Cook pushed floodwaters even higher.

The very Far North was cut off from the rest of the country once again on Thursday morning after a slip dumped clay and vegetation on to SH1 on the north side of the Mangamuka Gorge.

SH10 was closed by flooding near the Whangaroa Bridge north of Kaeo, but for the second time this month the district dodged a climatic bullet.

Road workers preparing to clear the slip that closed SH1 on the northern side of the Mangamuka Gorge on Thursday. Tracks made by light vehicles that travelled around the slip can be seen at the right.
Road workers preparing to clear the slip that closed SH1 on the northern side of the Mangamuka Gorge on Thursday. Tracks made by light vehicles that travelled around the slip can be seen at the right.

The Far North again received heavy rain but was spared Cyclone Cook's winds, which wreaked havoc over much of the country.

The water at Kaeo subsided quickly, and the highway became passable shortly after high tide at 9am. The Mangamuka Gorge was re-opened a little earlier.

SH11, near Opua, was partly blocked by a slip late on Wednesday night, while Omaunu Road, in Kaeo, which links SH10 and Whangaroa Hospital, was passable only to four-wheel-drives all day Thursday.

Kaeo residents, including Noble Tua, who was on his way to stock up on essentials before Cyclone Cook's landfall, were undeterred by the flooding.

He left his car at home and walked through the thigh-deep floodwaters between his Turner Street home and town.

"This happens every time it rains. You just gotta do what you gotta do," he said.

One of the major victims of Cycle Cook was Karangahape Marae, at Matangirau.

For the second time in a month the Te Touwai Stream swamped the wharenui, this time to a depth of more than 30cm. Marae committee member John Tua said the floodwaters peaked about 3am then dropped quickly.

More than a dozen volunteers mopped silt and water out of the wharenui, kitchen and toilets.

The Matangirau community is planning to rebuild the marae on raised piles out of reach of floods.

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Kaitaia received 84.4mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am Thursday, followed by 21.1mm in the next 24 hours. That took the total in Kaitaia (as recorded by the Northland Age) for the month to 192.3mm, compared with the 87-year April average of 111.7mm., and the total for the first half of autumn to 415.9mm.

The autumn average is 312.1mm, while 1946 holds the record of 593mm.

- Northland Age

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