Whakatāne District Council is reminding people who live or work near cliffs and steep slopes (escarpments) of the need to take a precautionary approach to landslide risks.

Strategic Project Manager Jeff Farrell says Whakatāne and Ōhope residents in close proximity to escarpments should always be alert for any signs of escarpment instability, particularly after heavy rain. This includes movements of trees or the slope, cracks in the earth, ground slumpage, or dislodged boulders suspended in vegetation on the escarpment face.

“We know that most landslides in our District are triggered by heavy rain on moderate to steep saturated ground. Landslides can also be triggered following a long period of wet weather,” says Jeff.

“When there are heavy rainfall warnings in place, or when we’ve been on the receiving end of large downpours, people whose homes or workplaces are near escarpments should keep a close watch on the local situation.

“If there is very heavy rain over an extended period, residents of these properties should consider evacuating and staying with friends or family until the weather clears,” Mr Farrell adds.

Catchments are currently saturated following heavy rain, and with more in the forecast Council reminds residents of the following precautions when living near escarpments:

  1. Residents whose properties are at the base of escarpments are advised to not occupy the rear ground floor rooms of their dwellings until 24 hours after each rainfall event has ended.
  2. Sleep in a room on the opposite side from the escarpment.
  3. Residents at the top of escarpments should monitor the ground adjacent to the escarpment edge for any sign of ground cracks or tree instability, and contact Council with any concerns.
  4. If you are concerned about escarpment stability, consider self-evacuating to a location where there is no landslide hazard.

If you see any signs of soil movement or unstable trees on the escarpment, contact Whakatāne District Council on 07 306 0500 (24 hours) with location details so the area involved can be inspected.