Agencies are working together to find a short-term solution for urgent supplies while working on a longer-term road engineering fix for the state highway. 

Ōpōtiki District Council Civil Defence has activated their Emergency Operations Centre and are coordinating a range of responses from Te Whānau a Apanui, Waka Kotahi, FENZ, St Johns Ambulance, Regional Council, Hauora a Toi, Emergency Management Bay of Plenty and a number of vital community services such as Te Kaha Store, Te Kaha Medical Centre, and Allied Waihau Bay Fuel Stop.

Ōpōtiki Controller, Gerard McCormack, said that there was not yet a timeframe for a fix, but he was relieved that the good weather for at least a few days would make it easier for the crews.

“With half the road in the river, there is just no safe way to get vehicles through that section at the moment. But I want to reassure those stuck on either side of the undercut slip, that we have plans in place to ensure necessary supplies can get through.

“Since the partial closure on Monday, we worked to ensure that supplies of food, fuel and medicines were stocked up. In addition, we are investigating a number of options to ensure vital supplies can get through in the coming days. Fuel can be supplied from the Gisborne side, flights and emergency-only access may be possible shortly. So there is no need to panic buy as supplies will get through.

“I’d also ask that people stay off the river. There have been a few reports of boats crossing and it is just not safe to do so currently. The water is still high and the riverbanks are unstable. With the works going on to repair the road, boats are also just going to get in the way.

“We are sorting out the logistics of getting supplies across and if anyone needs anything transported in either direction urgently, please contact council and we’ll be in touch when we have arrangements in place,” Mr McCormack said.

Waka Kotahi also advised that road crews had been clearing the slips along the Waioeka Gorge and SH2 Oponae is now open to one lane with stop/go in place. This opens up the alternative route for Coast access if necessary.

Next update late afternoon Thursday 21 July 2022