Re-opening SH1 a 'number one priority'

By Sophie Ryan, Petrina Hodgson of the Northland Age

Workers begin the huge task of carrying out repairs at the site of a major slip on SH 1 Near Maromaku Rd, south of Kawakawa. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Workers begin the huge task of carrying out repairs at the site of a major slip on SH 1 Near Maromaku Rd, south of Kawakawa. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Video

A new detour around a slip on State Highway 1 in Northland may be ready for use before the end of the week.

The New Zealand Transport Agency Regional Journey Manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said the highway was an important life-line to the Bay of Islands and Far North.

"Re-opening the highway is our number one priority -- we all know how important a life-line the highway is to Northland," she said.

A section of road 70m long and 10m deep in some sections had been washed out by floodwaters on Friday night.

"It's a huge washout and it's still unstable because of all the rain we've had. Our contractors are working 24/7 in very demanding conditions to repair it."

Ms Hori-Hoult said the first task for contractors was to clear bush and safety guardrails along the highway so they could construct a temporary 100m detour past the washout.

"If the weather holds we hope we can have that detour built in a few days, but we will only re-open the highway when we are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. We need to be certain that there's no risk to people."

Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management group spokesman Graeme MacDonald said extra staff from Auckland had been brought north to assist on the job.

He said workers had stripped and cleared a site for a temporary diversion around the slip site, which will have at least one sealed lane controlled by signals.

However, staff had said the ground at the repair site was waterlogged and a lot of groundwater needed to be drained.

The area they were working in was quite small which limited the amount of staff and equipment that could be onsite at any time, he said.

The alternative route for all traffic to reach the north from Whangarei or further south was State Highway 12.

The detour added around two hours to any journey and there were delays at Kaihu, 30 kilometres north of Dargaville, where contractors were widening a 100 metre long section of the highway.

Ms Hori-Hoult said care was still needed on many other sections of state highway in Northland as work continued to clear them of damage and debris.

Meanwhile, federated Farmers Northland provincial president Roger Ludbrook said he hoped the Government would support councils repair the roads damaged in the storm, that has been categorised as a medium-scale adverse event.

"I wanted to be at the Minister for Primary Industries visit today but the state of my farm and local roads means I am stuck where I am," he said.

"Federated Farmers is hoping Government will recognise the hammering our local roads have taken and support the district councils.

"Since New Zealand benefits from what the roads we fund carry, it would be unfair to make ratepayers pay for the entire repair."

MPs tour flood zone

Meanwhile, National MPs have toured flood-hit areas of the Far North today, passing on the message that help is available for those who need it.

National MP for Northland Mike Sabin took Minister of Civil Defence Nikki Kaye, along with Far North District Council councillors and Te Hiku community board members on a tour of affected areas.

The group visited the Kaitaia residence of Ivy Cramond, and properties further north in Awanui, Ngataki and Pukenui.

The MPs reiterated that the main purpose of their visit was to spread the message that their was assistance available through the Mayoral Fund and to urge people to access it if they needed.

"People need to know that the support is available and we need to get the message out," Ms Kaye said.

Ms Kaye said building inspectors and Ministry of Social Development representatives were making their way around the communities.

"It is up to the council what you want to spend the mayoral relief on," Ms Kaye said.

"They just need to let us know how well best the money can be spent."

The Awanui residence of Jeff and Angela Popata was visited by the group.

Their property experienced bad flooding, with items in their back garage destroyed and a fridge load of food perished.

"The water was over our Redbands (gumboots)" said Mr Popata, himself a volunteer with the Kaitaia Fire Brigade.

"I was out on the fire truck helping other people while my home flooded. It's a matter of where do you start, you know?"

Ngataki resident Sonia Neho lost part of her veranda during the storm.

"It was scary. There are a lot of families up here that have lost food and they have kids." she said.

"It's tough but everyone up here manages and helps each other."

Pukenui Holiday Park owner Jo Kennedy was surprised to have the MPs visit her property.

One of the cabins in the park was damaged by a large tree falling onto it.

"Luckily for them the guests were out at the time," Mrs Kennedy said.

"It's all just a little bit dire at the moment. But there's lots to be grateful for, at least nobody up here was hurt."

Ms Kaye and Mr Sabin also visited the Pukenui clinic of Whakawhiti Ora Pai health organisation.

Workers there were busy organising bags of supplies which the Civil Defence had dropped in last night, including bread, toilet paper, and nappies, to deliver to local residents.

Those who require assistance should call the FNDC on 0800 920 029 or the Whangarei Council on 0800 932 463.

Affected roads in Northland due to be cleared tonight:

Taratara Rd, Otangaroa - Lane closed, landslips

Waiare Rd, Okaihau - Landslips, one lane closed

Whatuwhiwhi Rd, Whatuwhiwhi - Landslips, one lane closed

Mt Wesley Coast Rd, Mount Wesley- Closed

Okura Bay Rd, Totara North - Closed, landslips

Pokapu Rd, Opahi - Closed, fallen trees, danger, flooding

Pipiwai Rd, Opahi - Closed, landslips

Mangakahia Rd, Kaikohe - Lane closed, landslips, closed for heavy vehicles.

Victoria Valley Rd, Victoria Valley - Landslips, one lane closed

Opahi Rd, Opahi - Closed, flooding.

Richardson St, Opua - Landslips, one lane closed

Redcliffs Rd, Kerikeri - Landslips, one lane closed

Ruapekapeka Rd, Towai - Landslips, danger, impassable for heavy vehicles, one lane closed

Manawaora Rd, Parekura Bay - Landslips, one lane closed

Marlow Rd, Towai - Landslips, one lane closed

Matawaia Maromaku Rd, Opahi - Closed, flooding, landslips

Larmer Rd, Kaitaia - Closed, fallen tree

Fern Flat Rd, Peria - Closed, landslips

Gammon Rd, Awarua - Lane closed, landslips

Akerama Rd, Towai - Landslips, one lane closed

Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd, Herekino - Landslips, one lane closed

Walker Rd, Waiotira - One lane closed, landslips, approach with care

Mangakahia Rd, Maungatapere - Closed for heavy vehicles

Mangakahia Rd, Nukutawhiti - Closed for heavy vehicles

Paerata Rd, Tangiteroria - Closed

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Roads in Northland expected to still be closed tomorrow:

SH1 South of Kawakawa - Washout, closed

Patutahi Rd, Purua - One lane closed, landslips

Durham Rd, Waipu - One lane closed, landslips

Bull Rd, Paparoa - Closed

Pukehuia Rd, Tangiteroria - Closed, storm damage, flooding

Bob Taylor Rd, Tangiteroria - Closed, storm damage, flooding

Waimatenui Rd, Nukutawhiti - Closed, landslips

Swamp Rd, Purua - Closed, flooding

Otakairangi Rd, Ruatangata West - Closed, flooding

Takitu Rd, Nukutawhiti - Road closed due to landslips

Source: AA Roadwatch

- APNZ

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