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This home in Thornton Bay was damaged by one of the many landslips during the storm events of January and February. Cleanup is still ongoing across the Thames Coromandel district. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

2000 truck loads of debris removed

Work continues throughout the Thames Coromandel district to clean up the damage caused by cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. 

Roading issues have been the largest part of the work by far, with slips still occurring.

The Thames Coromandel District Council said its roading contractors had cleared over 16,000 cubic metres of debris and slip material from council-operated roads – more than 2000 truck loads. It was an effort requiring around 110 people and 6000 work hours to achieve. 

Approximately 120 slips over roads have been cleared, with 90 slips beneath the road identified for future repair. 

“We are moving from the initial response phase that focused on opening all routes as soon as possible, to the recovery phase,” roading manager Ed Varley said.

“Priority will be given to The 309 Rd and to Tapu-Coroglen Rd in that order. The 309 Rd will be prioritised over Tapu-Coroglen as the route is currently open and minor repairs can be carried out to maintain it, whereas Tapu-Coroglen Rd is the only collapse currently closing a road in the district.” 

Mr Varley said the recovery phase would include investigations into roadway failures, interim repairs, and prioritised repairs of vital roads, as well as the clearing of drains and removal of residual debris and detritus. 

Along with the massive amount of work to be done on the region’s roads, the council was also focusing on a number of other concerns; ensuring council-managed facilities such as beach accessways were safe to use, offering community support where storm damage had occurred, and providing support to struggling businesses. 

The Thames Coromandel District Council has set up a Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund to support those suffering financial hardship from damages caused by cyclone Gabrielle. By last week, the council had already received 148 applications for the fund. 

During the height of the storm events, the council also helped seven households in the region into temporary accommodation following storm damage to their homes. 

As well as giving immediate attention to repairs, the council said it would also be looking ahead to the longer term to manage how the district copes with climate change and rising sea levels, along with options for coastal communities. 

The Shoreline Management Pathways project had been looking at these issues already, and would help inform the council’s 2024-2034 long term plan, council said.

State Highways 25 and 25A were not included in the council’s assessment as they are managed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. SH25A is expected to take up to a year to reopen, while SH25 is still undergoing works between Hikuai and Opoutere due to a recent underslip and will be under stop/go traffic management for at least a week. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air.