Nelson rescue for pregnant Aussie tourist

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Workers shovel mud following Nelson's severe downpour. Photo / Andrew Board
Workers shovel mud following Nelson's severe downpour. Photo / Andrew Board

A helicopter dropped in crucial supplies to cut-off Cable Bay this afternoon before airlifting a six-month pregnant Australian visitor.

More than 40 homes are isolated by road after the worst rainfall to hit the Nelson Tasman region in 40 years.

Civil Defence said the area has suffered "major damage and is facing a serious situation across many fronts".

The small community of Cable Bay, north of Nelson, is likely to be cut off for at least a week.

Network Tasman is flying staff in this afternoon to restore power but there is still no water supply.

Helicopters dropped in food, water, sanitary items, baby and pet supplies, batteries, bottled gas, cookers and other supplies as the Civil Emergency, which was declared on Wednesday night, continues.

Civil Defence Group Controller Jim Frater says with the sun shining and people going about their Christmas shopping many have "no idea of the seriousness of the situation".

He said: "There are roads in Golden Bay that will be closed for up to three months, which will have an effect on the normally busy summer season. While there is no current figure available, damage to the region will be in the millions of dollars.

Nelson city's major arterial route SH6 Rocks Road remains closed following a major slip and is closed indefinitely.

Mr Frater says yesterday's aerial photos have shown the extent of the damage, which is "severe".

The inspection flight also revealed extensive damage to properties in Ligar Bay, Tata Bay, Wainui Bay and Totaranui.

Collingwood and Totaranui residents are also cut off, but have sufficient supplies.

Civil Defence is currently considering the possibility of evacuating some residents whose homes may not be habitable. An unknown number of residents have already evacuated to neighbours, they say.

Despite eight slips on the Maitai water pipeline in Nelson city, water quality has been unaffected and will continue to run, the Civil Defence says.

With more than 230 slips having now been reported in the Nelson city area alone, a new phone line has been set up to report them.

'Slipline' 03 5438498 is open seven days a week from 8am to 5pm. After hours, ring 111 if it is an emergency or contact individual councils.

Meanwhile, a dozen Geotech teams are out inspecting more than 300 homes throughout Nelson and Tasman today.

The majority of the affected homes are in the Nelson area and the teams will sticker the homes according to their risk from slips.

Residents who have self-evacuated or have been asked to evacuate their homes and are returning to find it has been stickered can ring either Nelson City Council on 03 546 0200 or Tasman District Council on 03 543 8400 for additional information, or visit the civil defence website.

There have been three incidents of police involvement as people refuse to leave stickered homes.

Civil Defence also asked for the patience of residents.

It stated: "The extensive damage from the storm has civil defence responders working 24/7 across the region. Residents are kindly asked to be patient as there are hundreds of properties affected throughout the top of the South. A top priority is to clear arterial routes and to reach isolated communities.

"If you require urgent assistance, please contact your council or dial 111."

- APNZ

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