Tuesday, February 14 2023, 10.25am
Cyclone Gabrielle final update for Ōpōtiki
Ōpōtiki Civil Defence is spending this morning [14 February 2023] assessing any damage or issues along the coast but initial indications are that the district had avoided the worst effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Ōpōtiki Controller, Gerard McCormack said that the district would now be operating under the national state of emergency, but that the Ōpōtiki district would not be the focus of national efforts.
“We’re really feeling for other parts of the country that have been hit so much harder. We are fortunate to be able to report minimal damage – it looks like SH35 is largely in good condition, and thanks to the defence force personnel who helped clear a few trees and debris. Waka Kotahi are just finalising their plans to re-open the state highway between Ōpōtiki and Whangaparaoa.
“Most people will start leaving evacuation centres and marae this morning and making their way home. Our low-lying coastal areas mostly appear in good shape.
“We don’t have any particular concerns with flooding at this point, although we can expect ongoing heavy rain and wind, but a bit more like a normal heavy weather pattern from here.
“I cannot thank our partner organisations enough. Ōpōtiki runs quite a different civil defence approach than many others in the country and our iwi organisations work just so hard alongside civil defence through these events. A huge thank to you all the marae who opened their doors, kura and schools who gave up their halls (and their sleep) to provide a place for people to evacuate to if needed. Thanks also to NZDF personnel who have been so hands-on and busy during their time here. FENZ and Police as well who have been visible, busy and a key part of our community response.
“We’ll have a busy few days on clean-up and returning to normal but we’ll also be offering support where we can to our neighbours and other parts of NZ,” Mr McCormack said.
The Ōpōtiki Mayor, David Moore, added his thanks both to the teams working in civil defence and the many partner organisations that had helped out over the last 48 hours.
“We made the decision to declare early so that we could use all the daylight hours possible to get prepared, knock on doors and have the resources we needed. Things could have been so much worse for us and we can see that in other places in the country – we are feeling for them right now.
“I am proud of the planning we did and want to thank everyone involved. A lot goes on in the background – a lot of coordination and planning in offices and on the ground. I know how hard people worked through the night and I want to pass on the appreciation from the community,” Mayor Moore said.
Tuesday, February 14 2023, 8.30am
The amazing folk from NZDF who stayed in our rohe overnight (some pictured here looking very flash at Terere) did an early morning reccie along SH35 and low-lying areas.
It looks like we have avoided the worst of Cyclone Gabrielle and SH35 remains in good shape (they took care of a few fallen trees as they went - I will share if I can find photo evidence!).
We have a meeting with our iwi partners shortly this morning so we can all check in and get a fuller picture. We are still operating under the regional State of Emergency declared last night, but for the moment, it looks like we can breathe a little sigh of relief.
Some of the other regions are still being heavily impacted however and our thoughts go out to them.
Monday, February 13 2023, 8pm
Ōpōtiki controller, Gerard McCormack outlined the expectations overnight and what had been done to date to evacuate low-lying areas of the district’s coastline. It was now a matter of wait and see and responding to matters as they arise.
The region is already feeling the initial impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, with heavy rain, wind and very high seas. These coastal surges and inundation are of the biggest concern and they are expected to worsen overnight. High tide at Ōpōtiki Wharf is 1:30am Tuesday 14 February and this is when the storm impact is likely to be also at its strongest.
The civil defence team developed detailed maps of the coastline in conjunction with the regional council. These were used to identify low-lying properties most likely impacted by these swells and prevailing wind. More than 350 properties were identified and needing to evacuate. [Please note the error in the initial media release – it should have read 350-400 properties not 450-500 properties].
The Ōpōtiki Mayor, David Moore, declared a state of emergency earlier this morning in order to use the day of relative calm to prepare and gather resources. Civil Defence staff and iwi response units spent the afternoon phoning and door knocking these identified properties.
Civil Defence has had incredible support from iwi response teams from Whakatōhea, Te Whānau a Apanui and Ngai Tai. Also the New Zealand Defence Force, NZ Police, and Fire and Emergency NZ. NZDF will be on the ground in Te Kaha and Ōpōtiki tonight as we are very grateful for their help.
We are confident all possible attempts have been made to ensure people are aware of the need to evacuate. Over the coming hours before nightfall, Police and FENZ will be carrying out final checks and moving through areas that should be evacuated to assist where they can.
We know many people have already self-evacuated and are with friends and family for the night or are at the community evacuation centres across the rōhe. Iwi response teams have been walking through many of these coastal communities checking in and looking out for each other.
If you are in these areas and have not yet been notified to evacuate, please leave as soon as possible. Take your grab bag and pets with you and evacuate to friends and family. If this is not an option, we have several evacuation centres available and details are on the website.
These shelters will be safe while the worst of the weather passes. They offer shelter, tea and coffee and a safe place for the night. But they aren’t equipped for extended stays.
If at any time residents do not feel safe, they are urged to self-evacuate to friends and family or one of the evacuation centres. If they cannot evacuate or are in any danger do not hesitate to call 111.
You can find other important information and updates below including the closure of SH35, location maps of likely inundation areas and other key pieces of information.
Monday, February 13 2023, 6.40pm
Two quick updates: information from local health providers and SH35 closure.
Church St Practice – Open normal hours
Toi Ora Practice – Closed tomorrow (Wed 14 Feb). For health emergencies call 111
Whakatohea Health Centre – Closed tomorrow (Wed 14 Feb) but phone consults available. For Health Emergencies call 111
IMPORTANT NOTICE - SH35 from Ōpōtiki to Gisborne will be closed to through traffic from 7pm tonight (or earlier if conditions worsen). This is to reduce risks of storm surges, wind and rain leading to issues on the road in dark and difficult conditions. The condition will be assessed as soon as possible in the morning. Emergency vehicles will be allowed through. More information is available on the Waka Kotahi website.
Monday, February 13 2023, 3.30pm
Ōpōtiki District Council is following the track of Cyclone Gabrielle and is taking precautions to protect residents in vulnerable areas. Ōpōtiki Controller, Gerard McCormack is leading the response.
We are expecting large sea swells and inundation along low lying areas of Ōpōtiki’s coastline. High tide at Ōpōtiki Wharf is 1:30am Tuesday 14 February and so we are taking action now to avoid a scramble in the middle of the night as the situation worsens.
We are currently evacuating residents in low lying areas of Ohiwa Spit, Kutarere, the Tirohanga Motor Camp, and low-lying areas along SH35 - Opape, Torere, Maraenui, Whanarua Bay, Waihau Bay, Raukokore, and Whangaparaoa.
We have developed detailed maps below of our coastline in conjunction with the regional council. We have used these to identify low-lying properties most likely impacted by these swells and prevailing wind.
These properties and their residents are being contacted directly by Civil Defence staff and fire services. We will be calling and door knocking throughout the afternoon. We expect to have called or contacted 450-500 households by this evening. We also have Defence Force staff available in Ōpōtiki to assist if necessary.
We are working very closely with our iwi partners – particularly Ngai Tai, Te Whānau a Apanui and Whakatōhea. Their outstanding support has helped us set up a range of evacuation centres and community-led centres in marae, schools and other locations.
If you are in these areas and have not yet been notified to evacuate, please leave as soon as possible. Take your grab bag and pets with you and evacuate to friends and family. If this is not an option, we have several evacuation centres available and details are below.
These shelters will be safe while the worst of the weather passes. They are a roof, hot drinks and some support, but the shelters aren’t equipped for extended stays. Please bring a change of clothes and a sleeping bag or blankets for each household member. Other ideas for what to bring when you evacuate are on the website.
If at any time residents do not feel safe, they are urged to self-evacuate to friends and family or one of the evacuation centres.
Waka Kotaha has also stated that SH35 from Ōpōtiki to Gisborne will be closed to through traffic from 7pm tonight (or earlier if it is closed due to weather). Emergency vehicles will be able to pass. This is to reduce the risks of slips, inundation and downed trees during high tide in the darkness. Waka Kotahi will reassess in the morning.
You can keep updated by listening to your local radio stations and through updates on this page, our Facebook page or on the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence website or Facebook page.
You can find useful information on preparing for and weathering storms at Get Thru
FENZ Station/Ambulance Bay
113 State Highway 35, Waihau Bay 3199
147 Tawaroa Station Road
Te Kaha Marae
State Highway 35
Te Kura Mana Maori o Maraenui
11 Maraenui Pa Road, Hawai 3199
2276 State Highway 35, Opotiki
|7 Omarumutu Road
76C Opape Road, Toatoa 3197
22 Saint John Street, Ōpōtiki 3122
Opotiki – south
Te Rere Marae
50A Te Rere Pa Road, Ōtara 3197
|Ōpōtiki - south
|21 Waioeka Pa Road
461 State Highway 2, Kutarere 3198
|220 Hiwarau Road
**Only for those on the inland side of Hiwarau Road. Do not cross if the road is flooded
Monday, February 13 2023, 1pm
Cyclone Gabrielle is still tracking (slightly worse than expected) across the north of Aotearoa.
MetService New Zealand advises that we can expect the worst of the weather later this afternoon and through the night well into Tuesday.
When our evacuation centres open, we will share the locations, what to bring and what to expect. We encourage people to make their own plans in the first instance – if you live in a low-lying coastal area, talk to friends or family about providing a safe place for a night or two. The centres will provide a place to be safe while the worst of the weather passes, but they won’t be equipped for extended stays.
We want to make sure we have the best data and maps possible and we will be contacting those in the path of the worst of the impacts. We will make contact directly with those properties this afternoon.
Until then, please take a moment to prepare yourself and your household. You can find some important information on what needs to be in a grab bag and how you can prepare you property for a storm at get Get Thru -
Monday, February 13 2023, 11.30am
Changes to Council Facilities and Services
Due to the possible impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle we are making changes to some of our services and facility opening days/hours to ensure the continued safety of our staff and communities.
Our Coastal Resource Recovery Centres will be closed today (Monday) and the Ōpōtiki RRC will close at midday today. With the forecasted rain and wind it is likely these facilities will remain closed on Tuesday – we’ll keep you updated on our website.
The Tuesday kerbside collection service will be postponed until Friday. At this stage the Wednesday service is still going ahead – we’ll update you if that changes.
Our Library, i-SITE and Office will close at 1.30pm today. Our Emergency Operations Centres remain up and running.
Coastal freedom camping sites are closed from today until further notice.
The Coast Community Board and Risk and Assurance meetings set down for tomorrow have been moved to 28 February.
Our essential services staff and contractors have been busy preparing for possible impacts from Cyclone Gabrielle and will be monitoring and responding to any issues that arise, assuming it is safe to do so. You can report any problems through our online form, send us a request through the Antenno app or call us on 07 3153030 for urgent issues.
Monday, February 13 2023, 10.30am
Ōpōtiki declares State of Emergency
Ōpōtiki Mayor, David Moore has declared a state of emergency for the Ōpōtiki district this morning, Monday 13 February 2023.
The mayor explained that the declaration was done early given the district’s unique situation – long coastlines, vulnerable roads and history of issues in extreme weather events.
“This morning is our window of relative calm to prepare. We want to use all our powers to be as prepared as possible for Cyclone Gabrielle and be able to save lives and get resources to deal with the impacts.
"This declaration will allow our people doing the mahi on the ground to do things like close off areas, evacuate people and get the resources we need as soon as we need them.
“We haven’t taken this action lightly, but we are also making sure we act earlier rather than too late. With high tide around 1:30am Tuesday, and the worst of the cyclone sitting right off our coast at the same time, we need to make sure no one is scrambling in the dark, trying to leave at the worst possible time.
“We have around 200km of tricky coastline to consider. Because of our scattered communities and more remote areas, we want to be prepared and take the daylight hours to contact those likely to be impacted. We are working with the regional council to prepare detailed maps of these areas so we can contact properties and communities directly with that information,” Mayor Moore said.
The Mayor also noted that evacuation centres are being set up and would be ready to go if and when they were needed. If people are asked to evacuate, in the first instance they should find their way to friends and family further inland. But if not, the evacuation centres will be available. The civil defence teams will be sharing details on that later this morning if they are needed.
The Mayors also reiterated that, if asked, people should leave as soon as told to do so by authorities or any time they feel unsafe.
“You don’t need to wait for an official warning – if you feel unsafe, prepare yourself and your whānau and head to somewhere safe for a couple of nights. Make that plan now and actually call friends and family so they know you might be knocking on their door. Don’t leave it a hypothetical plan – make it concrete. Know where you are going and what you are taking.
“Look out for each other. Check in with friends and neighbours and make contact if you have any concerns. We know this is a really stressful time so please support each other, stay up to date with the latest news and information as well,” Mayor Moore said
Monday, February 13 2023, 8am
Not a lot has changed overnight – we still know Cyclone Gabrielle is heading our way and we can see some of the impacts with our Northland, Auckland and Coromandel whānau.
We all need to use this morning as our window to be prepared.
We are setting up welfare centres so they can be available when they are needed.
We are working with the regional council to prepare detailed maps of areas most likely to be severely impacted with storm surges so we can contact properties and communities directly with that information.
At home and at work, you can also be prepared, have a plan and pack a grab bag if you live in a low-lying coastal area or somewhere that frequently floods.
Consider putting that plan in action today - with high tide at 1:30am Tuesday morning, the worst of the impacts may hit in the middle of the night. Consider staying with friends or family overnight to keep safe through that high tide.
Avoid non-urgent travel.
Prepare for possible power outages.
Keep your mobile phone handy..
We’ll continue sharing the latest news and updates here, on Antenno and on our Facebook page. You can also listen to local radio (particularly Radio 1XX) who are sharing all the latest.
Sunday, 12 February 2023, 6.30pm
Council is keeping a close eye on this fast-moving situation. We have activated our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which means we have our civil defence staff working hard and doing what we can to prepare for the likely impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.
We're making sure dedicated welfare centres will be available at various points around the district ready for when they are needed. We'll let you know tomorrow morning - in advance of the worst weather - where they are, how to get there and what to expect.
Please share these messages with anyone you know who may not have internet access or may just need a hand to get prepared. You can also listen to the radio (1XX, SunFM and BridgeFM) for news and updates. You can also download the Antenno app where we will share important information and updates straight to your phone.
If you are unsure what is happening with your school, please check the school’s Facebook page as at this stage some schools are remaining open but others (particularly more remote schools that require travel) are choosing to remain closed.
If you are on the Tuesday kerbside collection, your collection day will now be FRIDAY due to the expected impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle. Please do not put out your rubbish and recycling (plastic and glass) until then. Please let neighbours and friends know as well.
There are currently no planned changes to the Wednesday Urban kerbside collection. But please keep up to date here in case the situation changes.
Sunday, February 12 2023, 3.30pm
Freedom Camping in Ōpōtiki District to close
Ōpōtiki District Council is closing all coastal freedom camping sites from Monday morning (13 Feb) until further notice.
The freedom camping locations are:
- Te Ahiaua (Pipi Beds), 8km west of Ōpōtiki
- Hukuwai Beach, 2km east of Ōpōtik
- Maraetai Bay (Schoolhouse Bay) - Te Kaha
- Hoani Waititi Reserve - Omaio, 57km east of Ōpōtiki
We will be encouraging all freedom campers to go to inland locations away from the coast.
However, if they need to stay in Ōpōtiki, an area will be marked out for them in a suitable location at Memorial Park where public toilets are also available.
Sunday, February 12, 12.08pm
For the latest information on expected path and impacts of the cyclone check out the Metservice page.
While we expect the initial impacts from Sunday, the dangers of high seas are expected Monday / Tuesday. Of note, storm surge could cause a significant coastal inundation (flooding) threat to low lying areas with large waves of 5 - 7metres (or more) expected onto northern and eastern coasts of the North Island.
- Check the list below with some key things you and your whānau can do to be ready
- Check your neighbours and friends, particularly older or vulnerable people who may not be able to easily get updates or might need a hand
- Keep up to date with the latest information. Particularly note that high tide at Ōpōtiki Wharf is 1.30am Tuesday 14th February when water will be highest.
- If you live in low-lying areas (in the Ōpōtiki District that is places like along SH35, Ohiwa, Waiotahe) make a concrete plan if you need to leave your home –friends or family you can stay with, and a bag packed and ready to go. Don’t forget pets.
- If you believe your home may be at risk, consider self-evacuating ahead of time and making prior arrangements with whānau, family and friends to avoid a panicked evacuation during the night.
- If you have areas of your property that often flood, you can prepare with sandbags (available from places like Tracks, Mitre10, ITM) and there is some advice about how to fill and use them.
Aroha mai – we know this may cause nervousness and anxiety, but now is the time to get ready and be prepared. Make and practice your emergency plan with those living in your whare / home, put together a grab bag (a simple Google search will tell you key items to include) and have emergency supplies in case you need to evacuate.
If evacuation is necessary, welfare centres will be set up. We will make sure you know where they are, how to get there, and what to expect.
Kerbside Rubbish Services
We are closely monitoring the situation and what this means for kerbside rubbish services on Tuesday. We’ll keep you posted about whether we need to postpone collections or if they’ll go ahead as usual. Watch this space.
Information for campgrounds
There are a number of coastal low-lying campgrounds across our rohe and we will be keeping operators, and guests informed about the impending forecast, and if an evacuation is required.
Information for boaties
Over the next few days (at least up until Thursday at this stage) please avoid recreational activities on or near the water, as storm conditions can cause turbulent and unsafe waters, and coastal inundation is expected.
Information for schools
At this stage, it’s Business as Usual for schools next week. Should there be any changes, the individual school will communicate this info though their usual channels and their Facebook pages. Please ensure you are connected with your school, and touch base with them directly for updates.
If your boat is docked, don't go out at all on the water. Check mooring lines and fitting are secure and in good condition, ensure loose items are stored away or secured, and hatches and seacocks are closed. If you’re in a position to move your boat out of the water, this could be a good idea to prevent any potential damage.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is keeping a close eye on the weather and its impact on our river systems. At this stage, they do not expect significant issues but you may see messages from the flood room about ‘first’ and ‘second warning levels’. The Otara and Waioeka rivers may reach their second warning level in the early part of this week. You can read about what that means on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website .
Friday, February 10 2023, 2.30pm
Sitting up north of Aotearoa is Cyclone Gabrielle and we are keeping a close eye on the system to see where it might track.
It is too far out to know the exact path the cyclone may take so PLEASE stay up to date with the latest warnings and watches from the folk at MetService New Zealand
However, while the sun is currently shining and the next day or so looks calm, it pays to make a plan and be prepared!
We will be out and about making sure gutters are clear and our infrastructure is as prepared as possible. You can do the same at your house - check for things that might blow around, tie down trampolines and clear gutters. Have a whanau plan so you know where to meet and what to do in a big storm. There is lots of advice and ideas on the Get Ready website.
We'll know more and share more as the event gets closer.