Horizons prepares for Cyclone Gabrielle to keep community safe

Horizons Regional Council emergency management staff are preparing for the possible impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle as the system works its way down the country.

Horizons incident controller Craig Grant says the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) has been activated as staff plan for a range of scenarios.
“There are currently orange rain and wind warnings for the region that are in place from this evening through until tomorrow afternoon,” he says.
“There could also be sea surges on both the east and west coast. While these elements haven’t arrived yet and may not eventuate to the extent that they’re predicted, we are taking a cautionary approach with planning to keep our communities safe.
“From a rain perspective, it’s currently looking like the majority will fall in the Tararua District and Ruahine Ranges. However, this rain could impact the Rangitīkei River, Pohangina River and wider Manawatū catchment as well. 
“At this stage we aren’t expecting any river issues within the Ruapehu, Whanganui and Horowhenua catchments. However, all districts in the region are expected to experience gale force winds which may result in trees falling and power outages. 
“We highly recommend people take the time to secure outdoor items, prepare for power outages and have a plan in case there is a need to leave home in a hurry. It’s also worth following your city or district council on social media for more localised information and updates.”
Mr Grant says duty officers will be putting plans in place for the rest of the day and monitoring the situation overnight.
“This includes pulling contractors and equipment out of river sites, stabilising riverbank works, going over flood action plans, checking drains and pumpstations, preparing for flood barriers to be installed, and staying in regular contact with our peers at city and district councils.
“We have also serviced and tested the Moutoa and Makino floodgates to ensure they are fully operational if required, including if there are power outages. 
“While we hope that our region doesn’t experience the full force of Cyclone Gabrielle, we want to reassure the community that we are prepared to act if required. We’ll look to provide another update in the morning once we have a better idea of what has actually occurred.
“Finally, even though temperatures may remain warm we’d like to remind people to stay out of rivers when it’s been raining and not to enter floodwaters as they should be treated as contaminated. Stay safe and check in on friends and whānau.” 
Up-to-date information on river heights and rainfall is available via Horizons 24-hour toll-free Waterline 0508 4 FLOOD or via our website www.horizons.govt.nz
Updates will also be posted to the Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence page: https://www.facebook.com/civildefencemanawatuwhanganui/
For weather forecasting information please see www.metservice.co.nz. For road closures, delays, and warnings please see https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/manawatu-whanganui/
For sandbag queries please contact your local city or district council and stay tuned to your local radio stations for another option for civil defence updates.