NZ: Bay of Plenty district hit by "extreme rainfall" and flooding

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NZ: Bay of Plenty district hit by

Parts of New Zealand's North Island have been affected by severe flooding after rivers burst banks amid heavy rainfall brought by the tailend of ex-cyclone Debbie. 

Image: MetService

A state of emergency had been declared throughout the Bay of Plenty's Whakatane district, but local media NZ Herald reported this had now been lifted.

Around 2,000 people face spending much of the rest of the week out of their homes as the area is swamped by floodwaters, according to the publication.

Around 80% of the country's kiwifruit production is based in the Bay of Plenty, according to New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI). 

A spokesperson for kiwifruit marketer Zespri said there had been widespread flooding and road damage particularly in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, but it was unlikely there would be any major impact on the season.

"We know that a very small number of orchards have been affected by flooding in this area but given that the roads are closed, we can’t get an accurate picture of how many orchards are affected and the level of impact. We’re working with postharvest to understand the situation and support affected growers," the spokesperson said.

"Recent heavy rain resulted in some disruption to planned harvest and shipping however industry efforts meant that the scheduled two ships were loaded in week 12.

"Every season has its issues and while individual growers are affected, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall season, especially given how early in the year it is."

NZKGI communications manager Mike Murphy said it was too early for the organization to provide comment on how the industry may have been affected. 

"We are still ascertaining the extent of any damage. It’s going to take a couple of days before the water recedes in order to be able to get a clearer picture of how it’s looking," he said.

Meanwhile, a representative of the country's apple and pear industry added that "while frustrating, the rain has had no impact on fruit quality."

"After an outstanding growing season, the harvest has been interrupted at times as pickers face unpleasant picking conditions. However, concerted efforts between periods of rain have ensured that there has only been periodic disruption in the pack houses," Pipfruit New Zealand CEO Alan Pollard said.

"The rain is not unusual and we would expect these weather conditions probably every 5 to 7 years."

The rain has been caused by the remnants of Cyclone Debbie, which hit Australia's Queensland last week.

The Whakatane District Council said the area had experienced "widespread damage as a result of the extreme rainfall event generated by tropical storm Debbie."

"The Whakatāne and Rangitaiki Rivers have experienced unprecedented 1 in 500 year flood events," it said, adding the Bay of Plenty Regional Council had taken action to address hazards to residents.

A breach of the stopbank at Edgecumbe has resulted in an order to evacuate the town.

The Whakatane District Council also said roads have been extensively damaged throughout the district.


Photo: MetService

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