Minister defends flooding response
Posted at 3:40pm Tuesday 09 Jan, 2018
King tides, strong winds and heavy rain smashes the Thames and Kaiaua area last week.
Coastal Thames locals, frustrated with the response after last week's storm brought flooding, have brought their complaints to the Civil Defence Minister.
Minister Kris Faafoi is visiting the area after the storm left the Thames Coromandel Road severely damaged and properties flooded throughout the region.
At a meeting with locals in the town of Te Puru this morning, many voiced frustrations about power outages and poor communication from officials.
The storm initally left about 9000 customers in the Tauranga, Thames Valley and Coromandel areas without electricity.
One man said during there had been poor communication from Civil Defence and warnings they'd had were either inannacurate or nonexistent, and updates from NZTA were often late or conflicting.
He and another local also voiced frustration that Powerco had turned off the power "unnecessarily" eight hours after the damage was done for 24 hours.
However, Mr Faafoi says he's happy with the response.
"I think there's always some room for improvement in these situations, but I think if you speak to the community as a whole they're pretty happy with how things are at.
"I think you've also got to remember this is a pretty busy time for the Coromandel, they've got lots of visitors, and you saw this community of Te Puru also played host to a number of tourists who found themselves stranded here so on the whole I think it's a pretty good response."
Mr Faafoi also says his visit today would inform what response the government would take.
Mr Faafoi also says there had been some superb work done on the highway to get it back open.
Trucks and other heavy vehicles are being asked to avoid the Thames Coastal Road in Coromandel as crews work to repair storm damage.
The Transport Agency says there was extensive damage to 42km of highway between Thames and Manaia.
The road was later reopened to north and southbound traffic, but vehicles must be escorted in convoys and long delays are expected.
The agency says heavy vehicles should travel via Tairua around State Highway 25 to make sure the road was not damaged further.