Cyclone Debbie: Whakatāne, Ruatoki, Edgecumbe bear the brunt

Severe flooding in Taneatua. Image/ News Whakatane.

Residents in several Eastern Bay of Plenty towns, including Edgecumbe, Whakatane and Ruatoki are being advised to conserve water and avoid flushing toilets after being battered by the tail end of Cyclone Debbie. 

These areas in particular bore the brunt of the cyclone, resulting in rising river levels, power cuts, school closures and extensive flooding.  

The Whakatāne, Ohinemataroa and Rangitāiki Rivers have risen significantly, and with high tide expected at around 2pm, water levels could rise further.  

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has also reported that a stop bank close to Rewatu Road in Poroporo, is likely to be breached in the near future.

Residents on Titoki Road, the northern section of Rewatu Road, Leader Road, Burr Road and Pahou Road are being asked to evacuate homes. They say an evacuation centre has opened at the Salvation Army hall on the corner of Goulstone Road and King Street in Whakatāne for families needing assistance.  

The short video below posted by Poroporo local Natalie Livingstone shows the river water seeping through the Poroporo bridge. 

The council says although the severe weather has subsided today, its impact is serious.
A number of schools in the area also remain closed today including Tarawera High School (Kawerau), Te Wharekura o Ruatoki, Edgecumbe College, Edgecumbe Primary School and Te Kura o Te Paora.

Whakatāne High School will remain open today, although a recent post on their Facebook page says school buses will not run today, as advised by Civil Defence. 

The Rangitāiki River in Edgecumbe. Image/ Lisa Kereama