Residents: Gita a wake-up call

A Takaka Hill resident says the storm that brought down slips and completely blocked the road should be a wake-up call for many.

The Transport Agency said the Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita storm brought down at least 16 slips, cutting road access to Golden Bay, when it struck the region late on Tuesday night.

Steffi Rethwisch said the speed at which supplies vanished in Takaka shows a need for better preparation in an emergency.

She made it into Takaka to stock up on supplies but was too late even by Wednesday, but was shocked at the level of damage to the road.

“Driving into Golden Bay — when go along the road from the bottom of the hill, basically the top layer of the tarmac has been peeled off by the water.”

Once people knew they might be stuck they cleaned out stores of bread, milk, potatoes and toilet paper, she said.

“It highlights very much how much we are all dependent on transport. I mean, this is just a single road that’s been blocked.

“I think it’s a big wake up call and it wouldn’t be the last time it’s going to happen.”

Ms Rethwisch said families living on the hill had adapted quickly.

Children unable to get to school in Riwaka and Motueka are finding a silver lining to being stranded at home.

She home-schools her daughter but says other children are enjoying some unscheduled play time, with the play-dates being arranged on the hill.

“Basically we’re just letting the kids hang out that basically never have time because they’re so fully booked into the school life normally, and we never get to see them. So it’s great.”

Supplies have since begun arriving by barge at Golden Bay’s Port Tarakohe.

The state of emergency imposed on the region after the storm earlier this week was lifted at midday on Friday, but a notice of transition remained in place for the Tasman district only.

The Nelson-Tasman civil defence group controller, Roger Ball, said the notice gave the group authority to ensure the recovery efforts continued in a managed way.

Stranded residents and tourists have been finding a way out by air or sea.

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