Sunday, 19 November, 2017

New Zealanders evacuated from parts of coast as storm hits

Civil Defence Group Controller for the Bay of Plenty Clinton Naude said people should be prepared Civil Defence Group Controller for the Bay of Plenty Clinton Naude said people should be prepared
Saul Franklin | 18 April, 2017, 02:55

Residents in New Zealand have begun a major clean-up operation after being hit by a powerful cyclone which caused rivers to burst their banks, bringing widespread flooding, landslides, road closures and power outages.

Chief executive of industry body, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Nikki Johnson, said the group would be monitoring the situation and would assess damages after the weather had cleared.

New Zealand authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations and floods are threatening homes as Cyclone Cook arrives in the Bay of Plenty.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the storm is bearing down as New Zealand prepares for the Easter long weekend, meaning roads are likely to be choked with holiday-makers.

They have also warned that it is a "really tightly packed cyclone" that will bring a "phenomenal" amount of rain and wind, reported The New Zealand Herald, compared to Cyclone Debbie which was more spread out.

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However, the meteorologists are optimistic regarding the trajectory of the cyclone, which will avoid the city of Auckland - New Zealand's largest settlement. Hundreds of people in New Zealand were evacuated from some coastal areas.

Civil defence authorities said people from about 250 homes in the beach town of Ohope were told they had to evacuate, while other households chose to leave.

Roofs were torn off in Hawke's Bay, windows smashed in Whakatane, trampolines tossed in the air, mud dumped on roads and hundreds of trees uprooted across the island from the "worst storm in generations". The military said it had placed 500 troops on standby to assist those affected, if required.

Sarah Stuart-Black, director of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, said the storm was "extremely serious" and severe weather warnings were in place for much of the country. It is expected to make landfall by Thursday evening. That system and others will be tested again by rainfall from the latest storm.

With torrential rain and high winds expected, police advised those in the path of Cyclone Cook to keep trips to a minimum, if not ordered to evacuate.

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