Heavy rain on the Coromandel at the weekend has hit rivers and properties with particular force around Whangapoua, Coromandel and Port Charles but some other areas have stood up reasonably well despite the strains of the deluge.
Waikato Regional Council staff have been out and about since the weekend inspecting council flood protection infrastructure and stream catchments, and talking to land owners about what’s happened on their properties.
“From what we’ve seen so far it’s the north east of the Coromandel between Whangapoua to Sandy Bay that’s been hardest hit,” said the area’s catchment management team leader Emily O’Donnell.
“The rainfall was so intense that some sections of the Tangiaro River have eroded four to five metres into the banks, and some massive gum trees have fallen over the river. Places like Coromandel town were also affected, with our community flood scheme there in action Sunday night.
“We are still assessing damage at Port Charles and with Sandy Bay still cut off we are yet to determine needs there. At this stage, I expect that there will be several weeks of stream works for erosion protection, tree removal and reinstating stream channels.”
Ms O’Donnell said the situation was frustrating for the Port Charles landowners who had a freak rain event only on Christmas Eve and who had put a lot of work over the past decade into protecting their river banks.
“A lot of that effort has now been wiped out. Their winter pasture was also damaged as well as farm infrastructure, so it’s definitely a blow. But these guys are very resilient. Even as locals were trying to get their heads around damage they were digging in to help out their neighbors. Local residents at Port Charles and Whangapoua with a history with the area have said it was the most intense rainfall they have ever experienced.”.
On a brighter note, however, was the situation at Port Jackson which was badly hit in a big storm in June 2014. Since then landowners have spent hundreds of hours reinstating pasture and key farm infrastructure.
“This stream and catchment work was put to the test on Sunday, and we were thrilled to see that all the waterway channels held up well. It’s a real credit to those landowners,” said Ms O’Donnell.
“We were also very pleased that the flood mitigation scheme at Graham’s Creek in Tairua successfully diverted water down the new spillway, ensuring no homes in that area flooded. It was a huge relief given the intensity of the event and the fact that this scheme is still under construction.”
Ms O’Donnell said the council would be continuing to carry out inspections and develop plans for remediation with landowners over the coming days. The priority is ensuring good stream flow in case of another rainfall event and then prioritising works from there. Key local contractors are being mobilised and are ready for action.
“We’ll also be doing more work to locate damaged or blocked stream channels and to understand the damage landowners are dealing with. In particular, we’re keen to get over to Sandy Bay as soon as we can get access to check out what’s happened there.
“Once we’ve done the initial response to this event we’ll consider whether there’s anything else we need to do to build up the area’s longer-term resilience to flooding.”
Integrated catchment management committee chair Stu Husband said staff have done a great job responding to this event and worked some long hours over the weekend. “They’ll continue to progress our response over the next few weeks to help the community bounce back,” he said.
People with blockages in waterways or stream and hillside erosion on their properties or other flood-related damage can call the council on 0800 800 401 for assistance and advice.