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Flooding forces closure of schools, roads

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/07/2016

Motorists are being urged to avoid flooding trouble spots on the Coromandel Peninsula and in the Gisborne region following heavy rain.

Three Coromandel schools, Opoutere, Waihi Beach and Hikuai, were closed on Friday morning because of flooding and buses not being able to run.

The Thames-Coromandel District Council, in a Facebook post, says it was lucky the heavy rain did not coincide with a king tide expected later in the morning.

Local roads were closed by flooding, slips and fallen trees. State Highway 25, the main route from Thames to the eastern side of the Coromandel, is closed near Tairua due to flooding. A bridge about halfway between Tairua and the turnoff to Pauanui is damaged.

The end of School Road (Hikuai) as it disappears into a flooded Tairua River. Pictures thanks to J Stein at Hikuai School - Drew

Posted by Thames-Coromandel District Council on Thursday, 7 July 2016

Hikuai Settlement Rd is closed due to flooding. The road to Kennedy Bay is closed due to a slip.

SH2 north of Katikati was closed on Friday morning as the Uretara Stream washed over the bridge but it later re-opened to one lane.

Drivers in the Gisborne region are being told to take care on the roads or stay at home as rain intensifies.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management Group manager Louise Bennett says many areas have already received more than 100mm of rain in the past 24 hours with the greatest falls north of Tolaga Bay and in the coastal part of the Wharerata Ranges.

Another 70mm of rain is expected by Saturday morning. The Hikuwai River, north of Tolaga Bay, reached five metres on Friday afternoon, several metres short of the level where warnings to evacuate are issued.

"This will be monitored constantly over night," Ms Bennett said.

Several roads have been closed to heavy traffic.

The MetService has issued a severe weather warning, saying central New Zealand could be hit by gales and heavy rain could hit Gisborne and the Hawke's Bay.

The severe southeast gales could blast parts of northern Westland, Buller, the Marlborough Sounds and central North Island high country during Friday, with gusts of 120km/h in exposed places.

"Winds of this strength can cause damage to trees, powerlines and unsecured structures and make for hazardous driving conditions."

Up to 120mm of rain was expected in the Hawke's Bay ranges north of Wairoa, causing streams and rivers to rise and possible surface flooding and slips.

Meanwhile, police are urging caution on South Otago roads badly affected by ice, following a number of cars sliding off the road.

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