Regions devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle last week are in the firing line for wet weather today, with heavy rain watches starting in the Hawke’s Bay from 10am. The eastern portions of the North Island will have the heaviest rainfall before the weekend, although precise amounts are still uncertain.
The weather system that has caused substantial rainfall over the last two days in the central South Island was set to track up the country last night. It will impact the eastern side of the North Island in areas that have already been drenched by the devastating Cyclone Gabrielle, including Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, and is likely to stay for a couple of days, forecasts MetService.
Residents in the Coromandel, all across the Waikato and down to Gisborne should expect heavy afternoon showers, with the possibility of some thunderstorms in the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty. The weather system is expected to move away from everywhere apart from Gisborne overnight.
The same will happen in Napier, reports MetService, once the showers set in during the morning, they are likely to stay off and on until the night. There is a heavy rain watches in place for Gisborne from 2pm today until midnight tomorrow, Hawke’s Bay from 10am today until 10am Saturday and Wairarapa from 2am today until 2pm.
“One thing is for sure, any rain across recently flooded areas is unwanted and unwelcome, so even the less severe end of the range might result in further issues like slips and road closures in these hard-hit areas,” MetService meteorologist Angus Hines said.
Yesterday, a severe weather watch was in force for eastern regions, and it’s likely that some places will be elevated to orange severe weather warnings, MetService said.
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As areas hit hard by Gabrielle braced for more bad weather, the number of people still missing dropped significantly yesterday as police and USAR work tirelessly to locate those who were uncontactable after the storm. As of last night, it sat at 346, and the nationwide death toll remained at 11.
Police said on Wednesday that 19 more people were arrested and charged with 32 offences in the regions hit hard by the cyclone, primarily relating to shoplifting, assault and family harm. The arrests were in Gisborne (eight), Hastings (six), Napier (four) and Wairoa (1).
As the massive task of cleaning up the damage left along the eastern region continues, Napier City Council’s wastewater stations are pumping raw sewage straight out to sea.
Executive director of City Services, Lance Titter, said the sewer network was operating as it was designed to do in an emergency state, which is to pump out to sea to prevent raw sewerage coming up from manholes into city streets.
The sewage will be pumped to sea for some days or weeks, he said.
“Exact timeframes are not certain at this stage, but we are likely to get partial treatment of raw sewage underway in the coming days,” he said.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will visit Hawkes Bay today and is expected to announce an immediate inquiry into forestry slash issues.
Cabinet ministers met on Wednesday to discuss the terms of reference for the independent inquiry, which will be focused specifically on the issue of forestry slash and is expected to be completed within two months.
Massey University Lecturer of Joint Centre for Disaster Research Dr Lauren Vinnell said the threat of another event could be overwhelming for those in the affected communities.
“People who were really badly impacted might become fatalistic, so they might not see the point in preparing or might not heed warnings,” she said.
“Conversely, those who were warned about previous events but weren’t impacted too badly might not take new warnings as seriously.”
She worries that “disaster fatigue” will be prevalent. It restricts people’s ability to respond in the short term and can, in the long run, result in people leaving their community, and continuing mental health issues.
Massey University Associate Professor and clinical psychologist Dr Ian de Terte wishes to remind the first responders in the area to be kind to themselves in the face of this next wave of weather, for their own sake and or the sake of others.
“When people get tired they are more vulnerable. First responders accept that people will make all sorts of choices in extreme situations,” Terte said.
“However, that compassion isn’t always extended to themselves. Mistakes are going to happen under time pressure and first responders need to remember to be kind to themselves in those situations.”
For the wider communities, he warns people should be prepared, and organised and avoid panicking.
“If emergency management says you should evacuate an area, listen to them. Don’t be shy to check on neighbours. And don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it,” he said.
“For example, getting essentials or picking children up. We know from the Canterbury earthquakes that you’re more likely to get through things if you have the support of other people in a similar situation.”
Meanwhile, it is forecast to be a “nasty” morning in the lower North Island according to MetService, this means windy, wet weather in Napier. Thankfully, the rain is meant to clear out of most areas in the afternoon but it will remain windy and cold.
MetService forecasts a “bright start” for the upper North Island today, however, there may be some showery weather approaching this morning and arriving in the afternoon.
From midday onwards, there is a risk of a couple of showers through Northland and Auckland. Any rain that does fall is likely to be “sparse and relatively spread out”, MetService reported.
Another thing that arrives in the afternoon is a cool wind flow that will creep up from the South. This means temperatures will climb nicely in the morning but once they reach around 24C, they are set to plateau.