Storm leaves 'a real mess'

Golden Bay hammered by storm

Last updated 12:00 19/04/2014

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Collingwood publican Tinky Hovenden woke up to find the Parapara Esplanade gone, in upper Takaka motorists were stranded and across Golden Bay huge trees fell like matchsticks.

It is the third time in as many years that Golden Bay has taken a hammering from damaging storms.

A powerful southeasterly wind and huge tide combined to wipe out about 300 metres of the Parapara Esplanade, the only access to 10 homes.

"We woke up at 5am and I looked out and said to Heather ‘we've got no road'. It was a real shock," said Hovenden.

It happened as the couple are busy catering for the 125th anniversary of the Collingwood Rugby Club this weekend.

Along with other neighbours they managed to get their cars out but are uncertain what will happen without the road.

"It's a real mess, they will have to rebuild," he said.

The closure of the state highway at upper Takaka meant many of those travelling to the anniversary celebrations could not get through and while 100 registered yesterday, they were hoping for 300.

A celebration match between Collingwood and Riwaka, as well as a women's game, was going ahead today but a Parliamentarians' match organised by West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor was cancelled.

Golden Bay Community Board chairwoman Carolyn McLellan, who has a bach at Parapara, was also shocked to see the Esplanade wiped out.

"Tasman has a huge problem with coastal land. I don't know what the solutions are," she said. "For me this is a personal one but we have to come to grips with how we deal with coastal changes."

At upper Takaka, 35 motorists became stranded between two stretches of flooded highway, and the Upper Takaka Rural Fire Brigade came to their rescue, taking them to the Upper Takaka Country Club.

Farmers rallied to help, cooking chips and stew, and while 11 stayed at the club, Simon Harwood took three families home to stay at his place. "It was really great. We gave them bacon and eggs for breakfast then they headed off to Patons Rock."

The vital Takaka Hill route between Motueka and Golden Bay reopened this morning, and SH60 from upper Takaka to Takaka was open today. SH60 from Takaka to Collingwood remains closed due to flooding at Waitapu, with road blocks still in place.

Many visitors stayed overnight in Motueka because of the hill closure.

Golden Bay Civil Defence acting controller Sarah Chapman said many trees had come down, and today was a cleanup day.

Power was still out in Collingwood and Anatoki. Chimney flues had blown out at homes in Pakawau and Pohara, the Takaka Fire Brigade had dealt with 11 calls and the Collingwood brigade had eight callouts.

Emergency medical cases were being redirected to Wellington and Christchurch as Nelson Hospital dealt with its own emergency, with part of its roof off, she said.

Golden Bay High School was going ahead with its Easter Fair today.

Golden Bay district councillor Martine Bouillir said: "There's been a massive amount of damage, there will be lots of rock work and expensive stuff where things have washed out. I think we are getting used to it, we've had plenty of practice."

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Nelson and Tasman are in recovery mode as extreme weather from Cyclone Ita hammered the region from Wednesday night until the early hours of this morning.

Among the main casualties were a section of Nelson Hospital's roof, damaged by the severe windgusts and causing the intensive care ward to be evacuated.

Today it was business as usual at the hospital, with the piece of 12x6 metre copper roofing removed from the George Manson building by the Fire Service yesterday afternoon. Eight evacuated intensive care patients were back in ICU, said duty manager Stuart Port. The hole left by the missing piece of roof had been covered and made watertight.

- The Nelson Mail

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