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Schools close as BOP braces for floods

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/04/2017

Residents in the flood-hit Bay of Plenty are bracing for another round of rain, with a state of emergency declared in the region and many schools closed for the day.

While the 1600 residents of the township of Edgecumbe were this week being slowly being let back into homes flooded when a stopbank breached during last week's heavy rains, the prospect of another round of rain has caused concern.

The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for many parts of the country for Wednesday, with the Bay of Plenty, Taupo and Coromandel Peninsula forecast to be lashed by 200mm to 250mm of rain from 9am on Wednesday until Friday.

All 57 schools and about 80 early learning services in Eastern Bay of Plenty have been advised to close on Wednesday as a precaution, with the Ministry of Education to reassess the situation in the afternoon.

The government has declared the flooding a medium-scale adverse event, meaning residents and businesses are eligible for financial assistance.

A local state of emergency has also been declared across the entire region.

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee on Tuesday said authorities in the area were making plans for further rain and trying to shore up the stopbank.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has announced an independent review into Edgecumbe infrastructure and the circumstances leading to the breach of the floodwall last week.

The Whakatane District Council said residents would be given of plenty of warning with sirens if further evacuations were needed.

Two weather fronts are set to batter much of the rest of the country.

A slow-moving low over the Tasman Sea is expected to bring heavy rain in many areas from the South Island throughout Wednesday, while Auckland and Northland are also expected to get drenched.

On top of that, Cyclone Cook is expected to cross from the Coromandel Peninsula to Wellington during Thursday, brining downpours and severe gales.

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