Weather Mayhem and the aftermath across regions

Te Puke Train Derailment a cause of worry (Community Facebook Page Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, 1 February 2023

While the worst weather spell seems to be over for most of the country, it is an overwhelming task ahead of clean-ups and assessment of the extent of the damage for Auckland and parts of North Island.

Waikato Update

A health warning was issued for all Waikato lakes, streams, rivers, estuaries and coastal beaches.

Due to extreme weather conditions, Te Whatu Ora Public Health Unit for Waikato has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a precautionary health warning for the whole of the Waikato Region (Te Whatu Ora Public Health area).

Based on weather forecasts over the coming days, this warning will extend until Tuesday 7 February 2023.

This warning means all waterways in the Waikato Region are unsuitable for any recreational water use.

This is due to the heavy rainfall which has increased the potential bacterial contamination of waterways. In general, waterways should not be used for recreational activity for at least two to three days after heavy rain.

Dr Richard Wall, Te Whatu Ora Medical Officer of Health for Waikato recommends that where Public Health warnings are in place, the water should be avoided for all recreational use.

State Highway 26 flooded (Photo Supplied)

He said, “If you do use the water for recreational purposes when a warning is in place, then you are potentially exposing yourself to harmful pathogens that can cause illnesses including gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting), respiratory illnesses, skin infections and ear infections. If you remain well, you do not need to take any action. If you feel unwell it is recommended that you visit your local GP for further information or if medical assistance is required.”

Furthermore, the public is reminded to stay out of waterways, particularly any floodwater. Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater. In addition to the danger of drowning and debris, floodwater may also be contaminated with sewage, farm runoff and other waste, and can make you sick. If you have contact with floodwater or items contaminated with floodwater, you should wash your hands with soap and water.

Tauranga Update

Tauranga has thankfully had less rain than predicted so far, but a red rain warning is still in place which means there is the potential for rain to cause dangerous river conditions, flooding and slips.

Roads in many places were damaged after the weekend weather mayhem (RNZ image)

Where possible, the public is advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. Just like in the Waikato, the experts urge people to stay away from flooded areas and waterways and not attempt to drive through flood water.

The Council staff and contractors are keeping an eye on the situation and responding to any issues as they arise.

Bay Of Plenty Update

The Heavy Rain Warning (Red) remains in place for the Bay of Plenty west of Kawerau, including the Rotorua Lakes, Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City Council regions. Between 3 pm and 9 pm tonight, a further 40 to 70 mm of rain is expected on top of what has already fallen, especially inland with expected peak rates of 10 to 20 mm/h.

A Heavy Rain Warning (orange) also remains in place for the Bay of Plenty about and east of Kawerau, also Gisborne north of Ruatoria. For the 19 hours from 3 pm Wednesday to 10 am Thursday, a further 70 to 100mm of rain is expected in the region with peak rates of 10 to 20 mm/h, especially about the ranges.

Rainwater in Hamilton (Photo supplied)

As the heavy rain passes over the region today, motorists are reminded to be aware that conditions can change quickly, and that they should drive to conditions.

With the rain falling on land which is already saturated, it is incredibly susceptible to slips and surface flooding, which can affect their journey.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is advising people to stay home if they don’t need to travel, especially if their trip is not essential and check for any Highway closures.

Coromandel Update

In Coromandel, Land instability was the key concern identified when the Heavy Rain warning (Red) was issued on Tuesday. As a result, slips, both around the roading network and on the property, were expected to continue for some weeks to come.

Civil Defence has asked everyone living on hillsides to regularly check their properties for cracks and for indications such as doors not opening properly or decks moving underfoot as they could be triggers that the land is unstable and actions need to be taken.

Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler said, “We have a long way to go this summer with even more ex-tropical storms possible before calmer weather returns.”

He said, “It is unknown territory for all of us, so expect the unexpected, stay vigilant and be proactive if you notice anything.”

Department of Conservation huts and campsites across the Coromandel Peninsula has been closed to visitors as a result of the bad weather.

Work is underway to remove derailed train in te puke

Work has begun to remove the overturned wagons of a train that derailed east of Te Puke on Sunday morning but when the line will open is still unknown.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) unfroze the scene around 9.50 am on Wednesday and work was underway to remove the 11 derailed wagons, KiwiRail chief operating officer rail operations Siva Sivapakkiam said.

He said, “Yesterday, Tuesday afternoon TAIC gave us permission to take away 17 wagons, which were still on the rails, from the site.”

Wagons from the train were derailed around 5.30 am on Sunday on the East Coast Main Trunk Line (ECMT) between Te Puke and Te Maunga after heavy rain inundated the area.

The locomotive and many of the wagons did not derail and the two crew members were not injured during the incident. The train was carrying logs and pulp.

Mr Sivapakkiam said, “Before we can fully repair the track, our teams need to remove the derailed wagons and their cargo. To do this we will today begin making temporary repairs to sections of track that have been washed out by water over the last few days so we can get to the derailed wagons.

He said, “An underground gas line runs through the area, so removing the damaged wagons must be done extremely carefully. Once the derailed wagons have been removed we will be able to make a full track inspection and begin repairs that will allow this section of the East Coast Main Trunk Line to reopen.”

The weather delayed the initial response to the derailment and the incident investigation, and it could still hinder the recovery response. At this stage, KiwiRail is unable to provide a firm timeline for reopening the line.

Te Aroha remains flooded

Floodwater isn’t clearing around the Waikato town of Te Aroha, closing highways and putting pressure on the wastewater system.

A council spokesperson said that the wastewater network is taking in stormwater too and locals have been asked to reduce water use.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency shared the details about State highway 26 between Te Aroha and Paeroa, where the water was rising again. Although the road is currently open, the status could change at any time, and commuters are requested to check their journey planner and don’t travel unless they have to.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the contractors are monitoring the road and will be ready to close it again if required when the high tide approaches at approximately 5 pm.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement