Saturday, April 20, 2024

Recovery on horizon for Manawatū-Whanganui region

Horizons Regional Council has established a recovery group to coordinate recovery efforts and connect with other agencies.

Council group recovery manager, Dr Jon Roygard said while some parts of the region avoided the worst of Cyclone Gabrielle, others are experiencing significant disruption, with the Tararua District particularly impacted.

“Our immediate priority since this event hit has been the safety of our community. We’re now focusing on confirming all our residents are safe and making sure they can get what else they need,” said Dr Roygard.

“Our thoughts are with all people suffering as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle, including those in other parts of the motu.

“Horizons is working with territorial authorities and industry bodies to coordinate  resources and ensure people are kept informed about the state of road, river and communications networks.”

Tararua District Council has established a 4WD access path to the Herbertville area, with a convoy containing various agencies arriving in the area yesterday. 

“Some roads remain closed in the Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Manawatū districts, especially through the Pohangina Valley where bridges have been significantly damaged.”

“One of the bridges – crossing the Pohangina River at Churchill Drive – is one of the paths to Tōtara Reserve Regional Park, which Horizons manages. The park remains closed until further notice, with a full assessment to take place once we are able.

“We appreciate the many messages of support and kind offers of help at Tōtara Reserve, we need time to assess what will be required. We will let people know how they can help once that assessment is done,” said Dr Roygard.

Council regulatory manager, Greg Bevin says Horizons had advice around regulations for those in areas severely impacted by the cyclone to help producers get back on their feet.

“We appreciate that some farmers are facing immediate challenges in regards to milk collection, washed out tracks, bridges and culverts, stock burial, damaged fences, milk collection and full effluent systems,” he said.

“Where infrastructure such as farm bridges and culverts have been damaged or destroyed, these can be replaced without the need for resource consent on the basis they are repaired or reinstated on a like for like basis.

“In relation to stream culvert replacements this should be done in a manner that provides for fish passage. People can contact our freshwater team on 0508 800 800 who can assist with culvert requirements.

“If stock need to be buried this should be done in areas that are away from waterways. We recognise that fences alongside waterways will be impacted and it will take time to reinstate these.

“Where milk needs to be disposed of to ensure animal welfare is maintained it should be disposed into the farm dairy effluent system and then discharged to land. Full or overflowing effluent systems can also be discharged to land.”

Meanwhile, Dr Roygard said waterway levels were continuing to fall across the Horizons Region.

“Staff need water to recede to certain levels before they can fully assess erosion, river channel and bed changes, and any possible damage to infrastructure. Saying that, key river infrastructure was checked where possible after Wednesday evening’s earthquake.”

“We are also organising an easy way for the public to let us know about any river infrastructure damage via RMenquiries@horizons.govt.nz. This email address will be live from Friday. While it’s still early days in terms of quantifying damage, we know there will be an impact on our river management work programme.” 

He said the Moutoa floodgates (main photo) and spillway continued to operate throughout the night, taking pressure off of the lower Manawatū River.

“We shut the gates on Thursday afternoon, but we will continue monitoring the area in case the gates need to reopen.” 

“Horizons and Horowhenua District Council staff also worked together on Wednesday evening at Kings Canal to the east of Foxton when the canal couldn’t drain into the Manawatū River due to high water levels. Horowhenua District Council has a portable pump they use to divert water, which worked well.”

Up-to-date information on river heights and rainfall is available via Horizons 24-hour toll-free Waterline 0508 4 FLOOD or via our website www.horizons.govt.nz.

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