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Cyclone Cook: 'The worst is over'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/04/2017

Flooding on Mt Albert Road as Cyclone Cook moves down the country. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Flooding on Mt Albert Road as Cyclone Cook moves down the country. Cyclone Cook has battered the Bay of Plenty, leaving homes flooded and many without electricity, but has quickly swept down the North Island without matching the feared destruction of the Wahine storm of 1968.

"The worst is over. At the moment it's lying just southeast of Cook Strait," MetService meteorologist John Crouch about 5am on Friday.

It should pass the east of the South Island during Friday morning, bringing rain and wind to the eastern seaboard, he said.

Cook brought heavy bands of rain and strong winds.

The strongest wind gust was 209km/h recorded at White Island around 4pm on Thursday and Cape Kidnappers' winds hit 154km/h at 9pm. However, winds around the Bay of Plenty were generally much lower.

Earlier on Thursday, forecasters were warning Cook could be in the same league as ex-Tropical Cyclone Giselle in 1968, which hit the whole country and resulted in the fatal Wahine ferry disaster.

However, authorities weren't forced to close the Auckland Harbour Bridge and there hasn't been comparable destruction.

"It probably wasn't as significant as we were initially thinking," Mr Crouch told NZ Newswire.

Cook was small and compact, wasn't as deep as previous lows and moved quickly over the North Island, Mr Crouch said. It also tracked further east than thought so Auckland wasn't badly hit.

Firefighters responded to 50 weather-related calls in the Hawke's Bay until about 9.30pm but there was nothing after 10pm, the Fire Service's Murray Dunbar says.

Nevertheless, the Waikato and Bay of Plenty face a clean up.

On Thursday, emergency services received dozens of calls about homes flooding, along with powerlines and trees brought down in the Thames-Coromandel District, Matamata, Tauranga and Whakatane.

Slips, flooding, and fallen trees and powerlines have forced the closures of parts of SH2, SH25, SH30 and SH34, according to the NZTA.

Two people were hospitalised in the Hawke's Bay after a tree brought down by the cyclone struck their car.

The weather also disrupted regional flights across the country.

Waves up to 5m were expected to hit coastal areas and prompted Civil Defence calls for people to evacuate low-lying and vulnerable coastal areas in the Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel Peninsula earlier in the day.

A state of emergency had already been declared in the Bay of Plenty and Thames-Coromandel regions, still suffering from the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Debbie last week.

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