News of the uncertain fate of State Highway 2 through the Manawatu Gorge is a bombshell for Woodville residents, says New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark.
Visiting Woodville on Tuesday, Mr Mark went to businesses, chatted to people on the street and talked to truckies.
"People here are still reeling," he told the Dannevirke News.
"It wasn't a good feeling and as I walked the streets I sensed a great deal of apprehension."
Mr Mark said the Government should have put some sort of package on the table for businesses immediately.
During his visit into the gorge last Friday morning, Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he understood the frustration businesses were feeling, but didn't commit to a support package.
"Our first and best resort to get business back on their feet is by signage at the exit of the Saddle Rd, but other than that, we'll look at anything else on a case-by-case basis, Mr Bridges said.
Mr Mark said that wasn't good enough.
"What they need to understand is that if a business ends up winding down, what the implications are for the community.
"People still have families to feed, mortgages to pay and hire purchases to keep up.
"Come on, open your damn eyes," was his message to the Government.
Mr Mark, who had made six trips over the Saddle Rd recently, said he was shocked at the road's state.
"I went over Friday and can't believe how quickly it's breaking up," he said.
"It's not handling it too well. I think shows a lack of foresight by the New Zealand Transport Agency and it seems strange they let the Saddle go back so much."
Mr Mark is also concerned about the cost to Tararua ratepayers of the hit minor country roads off the Saddle Rd are taking from the extra traffic.
"When the Tararua District Council gets clobbered with extra costs, the ratepayers have to wear it and even a one per cent increase in Tararua rates is going to hurt," he said.
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said he was aghast the Manawatu Gorge had been closed "indefinitely" by National and urged the Government to come up with a support package for affected towns.
"Nothing sums up the ineptitude of National more than the Manawatu Gorge being closed, which has severed State Highway 3 and cut vital links in the lower North Island," he said.
"If this was the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Government would be all over it like a rash. But because this is in provincial New Zealand it is treated like an also-ran.
"We've got news for Messrs English, Joyce and Bridges. The regions will no longer put up with being treated as second-class citizens.
"What is for certain is that the Manawatu Gorge closure is like an earthquake upon businesses and their staff.
"Those near the gorge and in Woodville have hung on but now deserve help from this Government because this decision is a disaster for them.
"New Zealand First takes this seriously and our local MPs, Ron Mark and Darroch Ball, will write to the Prime Minister for solutions.
"We also know how vital State Highway 3 is and we expect to make a more detailed policy announcement quite soon."
* In the past five years State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge has been closed 22 times.
* Those closures have totalled 338 days.
* In 2011 a major slip closed the gorge for 14 months.
* The gorge has now been closed since April 24.