It could take Coromandel Peninsula landowners several years to fully recover from last week’s storm, with the initial clean-up by Waikato Regional Council staff and contractors expected to be about two months.
“Heavy rain like we had last week causes water to flow very quickly off the surrounding hills, bringing logs, gravel, rocks and even boulders with it,” said Julie Beaufill, regional council’s division manager for Hauraki and Coromandel.
“That debris quickly fills up the stream’s normal channel and once full, the water simply finds somewhere else to flow. That was the case with the Ohinewai Stream, which has diverted and gone through a house,” she said.
Last week’s storm affected a number of areas across the Hauraki-Coromandel district. One of the worst hit was the stretch of coast lying just north of Colville, between Waiaro and Port Jackson.
The most effective way to survey the extent and severity of the damage was by air. The regional council assessment on the weekend showed that streams are out of their channels and paddocks are completely covered in sediment and debris, including huge boulders.
“It’s a concentrated area but the damage is intense, particularly because debris has spilled a long way from the streams, due in part to short steep catchments,” Ms Beaufill said.
“We have dedicated our resources to assessing the damage and determining what’s needed in terms of our onsite emergency response.”
She said roads reopened to four wheel drive vehicles on Friday, allowing regional council staff to reach areas north of Colville to assess the damage.
“To get streams to flow back in their original channels we have to dig out all that extra gravel and debris. We were able to get a digger in on Friday to get underway with clearing stream blockages, starting with the Ohinewai Stream.
“We’ve now got another two diggers working in the area, with a fourth arranged to start work tomorrow.”
Ms Beaufill said: “There’s also quite a bit of fencing down, which is a problem for some landowners given they’ve got ewes in lamb at the moment. We understand rural support services are getting labour up there to help farmers move debris and rebuild fences.”
She said while the initial clean-up is expected to take about two months, the regional council anticipates it will be working with landowners over the next few years on recovery, including stabilising land and minimising the impact of sediment on waterways.
Thames-Coromandel regional councillor Clyde Graf has been visiting the area today to talk to landowners about what additional support they may need and the regional council’s role in facilitating that.
The full scope of the work required is still being assessed and so the clean-up cost is not known at this time, however, it will be supported by a special fund set up for such occasions.
View video of the damage here: http://youtu.be/fnGqUWwfvVI