Evacuees Gemma Orr and James Haare are among dozens of Northlanders who moved into community-organised shelters as Cyclone Gabrielle intensified.
Earlier today the Whangārei District Council urged people living in vulnerable locations near bursting rivers to seek shelter before high tide at 1.56pm today.
Police and Fire and Emergency NZ staff weaved their way around low-lying areas in Whangārei to help people self-evacuate as floodwaters rose in the central city.
Concerns about tidal flooding and further inundations overnight spurred the council to make the appeal around 1pm to at-risk residents specifically in central Whangārei and the Town Basin areas.
The district has copped the worst of the rain since the storm began. According to MetService, Glenbervie has recorded a whopping 334mm of rain since Saturday.
The homeless duo, Orr and Haare, was among 25 people who sought shelter at the Terenga Taraoa Marae on Porowini Ave in central Whangārei at different times between Friday and Monday.
Orr has mostly lived in her car since she moved to Whangārei from the Bay of Plenty about three years ago.
“It’s been amazing here at the marae. People have been so welcoming. As soon as I walked in, they put a towel around me, fed me and made me feel at home.”
Haare and five others have been sleeping in a tent in Otaika for about two months. They too moved into the marae on Saturday after finding out about it at Open Arms.
“I wanna live here but we are only here because of the storm. Everyone has been nice, people have been bringing in food...reminds me of my family,” he said.
Co-chair of Te Kahu o Taonui and Northland Civil Defence member Mariameno Kapa-Kingi said the number of those seeking shelter in the marae was expected to grow as the cyclone intensified last night.
“It’s a normal response for Māori. This is a very Māori response to a situation where Māori themselves in, and we draw to those things that we naturally are drawn to.”
She said a father came to the marae yesterday because the power to his home was cut off and he didn’t have enough money for gas until Wednesday.
He asked for food to take back to his family.
The marae can accommodate between 80 and 100 people at any one time.
McKay Stadium in Kensington has been turned into a Civil Defence evacuation centre for those in Whangārei needing somewhere safe to stay.
The district council encouraged those who had “nowhere safe to go” to turn to the centre on Western Hills Dr.
Whangārei resident Cindy made an early decision to evacuate to the stadium from her home in the Avenues.
While her home had not yet flooded, Cindy opted to take no risks and left with her three adult children, a grandson, three dogs and a cat.
“We’ve had flooding there before,” she said.
“It’s getting worse. It’s really high, it’s almost up to the wall of my property - I’m hoping it doesn’t get higher.”
Council called on all other Whangārei residents to “please stay home” and off the district’s roads.
Pak’nSave Whangārei is closed as the supermarket followed council and Civil Defence directives.
Floodwaters that claimed streets around central Whangārei as the Hātea River hit capacity have receded. The river levels were much higher than normal for a 2.8m high tide.
At least 12 roads are now closed as the city begins to flood. The streets include Porowini Ave, Kaka St and Shoemaker Rd. More than 37 other streets have been affected by slips, fallen trees or flooding. A full list is provided at the bottom of this page.
James St in the city centre is underwater closest to Dent St. Floodwaters are already making their way underneath the entrances to stores with some owners having to pump water from their premises.
Staff from Just Thrive dance studio on James St were using buckets to bail floodwaters from their building.
Just Thrive owner Carla Bedford spent today trying to remove last night’s stormwater from the inside of her dance studio as Cyclone Gabrielle rages on.
”We managed to stop [the water] yesterday afternoon, it came right up but the one that happened during the night came in.
”We weren’t here to bail out during the night and we blocked it the best we could using all sorts of things...old carpet and everything. So, we came in this morning and cleaned up as best we could.”
Bedford said the water through the studios was “still oozing out” from under the dance floors.
To make matters worse, Bedford had recently invested in brand new dance floors for the studio’s first day back – which was supposed to be today.
”I’m hoping it’s all savable,” she said.
”It’s just a disruption to business, you know just one more thing.”
Despite the grim circumstances Bedford said she is extremely thankful for her dance community who stopped in to help her mend the damage throughout the day.
”They’re an amazing, supportive really beautiful community here.”
The Advocate understood matters were made worse by drivers ploughing their 4WDs through floodwaters downtown causing small waves to flood into businesses.
Further south, Kaipara District Council has announced an official Civil Defence Evacuation Centre at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 58 Hokianga Rd, Dargaville for those who may need to leave their homes.
The council has urged those who can to stay with whānau or friends in the first instance to do so, and they will communicate when the centre is open to take people.
Impacted roads in Whangārei:
- Glenmohr Road - fallen tree
- Kaka Street – closed pre-emptively due to flooding
- Manganese Point Road - landslip
- Matapouri Road (multiple locations) - fallen trees
- Moore Road (by the bridge) – fallen tree
- Old Parua Bay Road – fallen tree
- Pataua South Road – fallen tree
- Pipiwai Road central (by Panel Beaters, past Hiko Place) – fallen tree
- Porowini Ave (outside Mitre 10 / Z petrol station) – flooding
- Russell Road (Kensington) – tree blocking entrance to Quarry Gardens
- Stuart Road - landslip
- Shoemaker Road – flooding (detour via AppleCross Road)
Roads passable with caution:
- Aponga Road – one lane only, fallen tree
- Beach Road (multiple locations) – flooding
- Commerce Street (at Woods Road end) – flooding
- Corks Road – flooding
- Cove Road (multiple locations) – fallen tree
- Denby Crescent (at Wanaka Street) - flooding
- Escalona Street – fallen tree
- Hatea Drive – fallen tree
- Hukerenui Road (near Riponui Road) – one lane only, landslip
- Irvine Road – one lane only, fallen tree
- Kara Road – landslip Kiripaka Road (intersection with Heretuanga) – fallen tree
- Kamo Road (intersection with Puriri) – flooding
- Kauri Mountain Road – one lane only, landslip
- Maungakaramea Road – fallen tree
- Mangapai Road – flooding
- Moore Road – one lane only, landslip
- Nottingham Road - fallen tree
- Ocean Beach Road – fallen tree
- Owhiwa Road - one lane only, fallen tree
- Old Onerahi Road - one lane only, fallen tree
- Panorama Drive – fallen tree
- Prescott Road – fallen tree
- Riverside Drive (by Memorial Drive) – flooding
- Rosythe Road – fallen tree
- Russell Road (Whakapara)
- South Road – flooding
- ahere Road – fallen tree
- Three Mile Bush Road (corner of Pipiwai Road) – fallen tree
- Vale Road - fallen tree
- Vinegar Hill Road (near Salesyard Road) – one lane only, fallen tree
- Walton Street – flooding
- Whangarei Heads Road (near Solomon’s Point) – one lane only, landslip
- Whangarei Heads Road (Waikaraka) – one lane only, landslip Whatitiri Road (near Brewer Road) – one lane only, fallen tree
- Whau Valley Road – flooding
- Wood Road – one lane only, fallen tree