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Welfare centre set up for Far North flood victims

Published: 5:41AM Monday January 31, 2011 Source: ONE News

A welfare centre has been set up in the Far North to help people whose houses were flooded by Cyclone Wilma over the weekend.

Around 100 homes in Moerewa near Kawakawa were damaged as water washed through the township on Friday night.

Inspection teams will work to make contact with residents this morning to find out whether they need emergency welfare assistance.

Representatives from the Ministry of Social Development, Housing New Zealand and the Far North District Council have set up the recovery centre to assess individual needs.

It will be a long drive home for motorists who spent Auckland Anniversary weekend on the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Cyclone Wilma left a large slip on State Highway 25 at Raumahunga Bay, about a quarter of the way up the peninsula.

NZTA spokesman Trevor Fearnley said while most of the others slips are now cleared, this large one will take at least two days to sort out.

Fearnly is urging people to stay away from the slip area, as there are a number of trucks carting material away and there is a risk from falling debris or of further landslide.

Wild weather stranded more than 500 people in Coromandel towns over the weekend.

Tropical cyclone Wilma caused two months of rain to fall in 12 hours in Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Waikato causing widespread flooding, slips and power outages.

One large slip and a several smaller ones trapped residents and holiday makers in the Coromandel settlements of Tapu and Temata, about 20km northwest of Thames, yesterday morning.

Contractors broke through the smaller slips yesterday afternoon, Thames Coromandel District Council said.

Tapu hotel and camping ground owner Ron Efford said the campground was at capacity and hundreds of disgruntled campers had been forced to stay put since Saturday.

Slips and flooding across the top of the North Island had caused traffic delays and other road closures, which had detours in place.

Northland

In Northland, farms in the low-lying Hikurangi swamp area remain submerged after flood waters breached stop banks along the Mangakahia River, Northland Regional Council operations director Tony Phipps said.

The water could remain for several weeks until the river levels recede and the area can be pumped, he said.

Waikato

In the Waikato, river levels were expected to recede today after the highest flows there since 1998, Environment Waikato emergency management officer Adam Munro said.

The region's river systems were coping well with the influx of water but there were still areas of flooding, he said.

Only one lane remains open on Kuaotunu Wharekaho Rd, or SH25, due to a slip.

Auckland

In the Auckland region there were still areas of significant flooding, said Civil Defence Auckland group controller Clive Manley.

Several roads on Waiheke Island were closed by slips and the wet earth remained unstable and there was a chance of further slips despite the rain stopping, he said.

A public health warning remains in place for people not to swim in the region's rivers and harbours due to a risk of contamination.

Tauranga

Tauranga residents no longer needed to conserve water as water processing plants were back on line and the water supply system was getting back to normal operation, a Tauranga City Council press release said.

All tracks on and around Mount Maunganui remain closed due to slips.

People are still advised to stay out of the water in the inner Tauranga Harbour, including Pilot Bay, for the duration of the long weekend.

Bay of Plenty

River levels peaked in the Bay of Plenty overnight but there had been no further reports of flooding, Bay of Plenty Regional Council spokeswoman Bronwyn Campbell said.

The Fire Service reported a fairly quiet evening despite welfare centres being put on standby for evacuees.

The main problem in the Bay of Plenty has been high winds bringing trees down across roads.

SH2 at Waimana Gorge is closed due to flooding.

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