Hospital roof partially lifts off

Firefighters are trying to secure and lower a large piece of copper roofing hanging off the side of Nelson Hospital.

Eight intensive care unit (ICU) patients and staff had to be evacuated to the recovery ward as the 12 by six metre section of roofing hung precariously over the department.

All affected buildings have been evacuated and a security cordon has been set up on Waimea Rd between Franklyn and Motueka streets.

Fire station officer Craig Davies, who was overseeing the site, said the biggest threat was if the piece of roof flew off like a sail, as they could not predict where it would land.

He had two trucks and eight staff on the scene overseeing the removal of the roof.

A crane has been brought in. It will extend 26 metres to reach the roof where holes will be drilled into the copper and it will then be attached to a steel beam and lowered to the ground. Davies said this would take some time.

Davies said it was important to take the roofing off as soon and as safely as possible as it was hanging "off not much", and the ICU unit had expensive equipment they did not want to see damaged.

He said evacuating the ICU patients had been a big mission, but "the hospital staff have done a fantastic job doing it".

Acting chief executive at the hospital  Eric Sinclair said the roof came off the George Manson building some time in the night due to high winds.

He said the emergency department and emergency medical centre next to the ED were still fully operational.

Sinclair said the hospital could take lower intensive care patients, but high intensive care patients would have to be diverted to Wellington.

He said there would be some disruptions to the hospital and visiting hours could be affected as well.

"People need to be mindful when coming for visiting hours. We may or may not have to stop people."

Sinclair said the evacuation had worked very well and was something the hospital had been prepared for.

Civil Defence said the Nelson Tasman area is in clean mode today with emergency services spending most of the night clearing debris left by the heavy rains and wind.

Most of the major roads are open, but people are asked to be vigilant as more rain and thunderstorms are predicted for the region. Residents and visitors in Golden Bay are asked not to travel unless necessary as
rivers are full and roads are expected to be closed with the high tide.

The Nelson Mail