The big clean-up begins

Picture emerging of extent of the damage.

Picture emerging of extent of the damage.

NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED: Logs pushed up against one of the bridges inland around Tolaga Bay that remain closed after the weekend’s deluge. Engineers need to inspect bridges, some of which are still under water, to ascertain the damage. Wigans Bridge on Tauwhareparae Road remains closed for at least two weeks after the weight of wood twisted it by 30cm. Picture by Liam Clayton

A multimillion dollar clean-up has begun and the educated guess at the cost is “at least $10 million”.

Work has started to clear logs and debris (slash) from roads, and around and under bridges.

It was “millions of tonnes, easy”, said Gisborne District Council (GDC) director community lifelines David Wilson

Conversations between GDC, forestry companies and private land owners were also under way on how to dispose of the wood, with some of the wood potentially being moved on to private properties where it could be burned, he said.

It was a matter of prioritising what could be fixed now, and making a start to clean up the roads in the most effective way that was best for the community.

But many roads were not going to be a “quick fix”, he said.

“It is going to take us a while.”

Many bridges remain under water inland from Tolaga Bay after it was hit by intense rainfall over Sunday night and early Monday morning. Those bridges still needed to be inspected by engineers.

$10 million for the clean-up an 'educated guess'

Mr Wilson said the $10 million for the clean-up was an educated guess.

Yesterday, he and other members on his team drove the roads that had been closed, to get a clearer picture of the damage. They also had aerial footage provided to them from forestry companies.

“We sat there yesterday in the car and guessed how long it would take to clear, the daily rates associated with that and extrapolated it out.

“The big thing for us is to keep people off the roads that are closed.”

Mr Wilson said if anyone urgently needed to travel roads that had been closed, they needed to contact Tairawhiti Roads journey manager Helen Harris on the GDC number 867 2049.

Tairawhiti Roads general manger Dave Hadfield said today they were removing slash from beneath bridges.

“For some of our contractors we have to work out how to physically remove the stuff from under the bridges.”

Mr Hadfield wanted to acknowledge the work put in by contractors to clean up the mess.

PF Olsen manager Chris Berry said his company knew of one affected landowner who had slash on their land. Mr Berry said he knew it was slash from his company’s logging operations because the catchment area was right behind the property.

“We are working with GDC and Tairawhiti roads to do what we can to assist.”

Mr Berry is one of many people flying into the area today to have a good look at the forest as a whole.

Right now he said it appeared to be “mid-slope failures”, which meant a landslide halfway up the hills in the forests.

“There is always logging debris left on-site because its not merchantable. It has not got a market.”

Nearly 2000 signatures on a petition in 36 hours sums up the anger of the community at the volume of forestry debris washed down from the hills.

Ruatoria resident, and former Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie said there was real anger in the East Coast community at the regulators and the forestry companies.

Slash clogged rivers, broke infrastructure, ruined properties

Woody debris, the majority of it forestry slash from logging in the Uawa catchment area, clogged rivers, broke infrastructure, closed roads and — most devastatingly — ruined three properties in the early hours of Monday morning.

Mr Caddie said many people were not interested in the bureaucratic process at the time that legislation was passed to control what entered the region’s waterways. But when something like this happened, it became clear how important those rules were.

He was not surprised at the popularity of the online petition. The petition, on www.change.org, wants native species to constitute at least half of the trees grown in the next 10 years under the Billion Trees Project. It also asks for stricter controls on the exotic forestry industry to protect soil from erosion and waterways from harvest slash.

“There is a lot of community concern,” said Mr Caddie.

“People want to help immediately and give support for stronger action.”

“They are angry with the regulators and the forestry companies.”

Eastland Wood Council issued a press release yesterday. It said Hikurangi Forest Farms, Ernslaw One and PF Olsens — the Forest Companies operating in the area — wished to acknowledge the devasting impact of this extreme weather event on the Uawa and Tolaga Bay community, and empathised with them.

“All three companies have been up to assess the damage and, as a priority, have offered full support and resources to GDC and Tairawhiti Roads to get roads open, ensure access for landowners, and will do further assessments by helicopter tomorrow.

“The second phase will be clean-up and working with affected landowners.”

A multimillion dollar clean-up has begun and the educated guess at the cost is “at least $10 million”.

Work has started to clear logs and debris (slash) from roads, and around and under bridges.

It was “millions of tonnes, easy”, said Gisborne District Council (GDC) director community lifelines David Wilson

Conversations between GDC, forestry companies and private land owners were also under way on how to dispose of the wood, with some of the wood potentially being moved on to private properties where it could be burned, he said.

It was a matter of prioritising what could be fixed now, and making a start to clean up the roads in the most effective way that was best for the community.

But many roads were not going to be a “quick fix”, he said.

“It is going to take us a while.”

Many bridges remain under water inland from Tolaga Bay after it was hit by intense rainfall over Sunday night and early Monday morning. Those bridges still needed to be inspected by engineers.

$10 million for the clean-up an 'educated guess'

Mr Wilson said the $10 million for the clean-up was an educated guess.

Yesterday, he and other members on his team drove the roads that had been closed, to get a clearer picture of the damage. They also had aerial footage provided to them from forestry companies.

“We sat there yesterday in the car and guessed how long it would take to clear, the daily rates associated with that and extrapolated it out.

“The big thing for us is to keep people off the roads that are closed.”

Mr Wilson said if anyone urgently needed to travel roads that had been closed, they needed to contact Tairawhiti Roads journey manager Helen Harris on the GDC number 867 2049.

Tairawhiti Roads general manger Dave Hadfield said today they were removing slash from beneath bridges.

“For some of our contractors we have to work out how to physically remove the stuff from under the bridges.”

Mr Hadfield wanted to acknowledge the work put in by contractors to clean up the mess.

PF Olsen manager Chris Berry said his company knew of one affected landowner who had slash on their land. Mr Berry said he knew it was slash from his company’s logging operations because the catchment area was right behind the property.

“We are working with GDC and Tairawhiti roads to do what we can to assist.”

Mr Berry is one of many people flying into the area today to have a good look at the forest as a whole.

Right now he said it appeared to be “mid-slope failures”, which meant a landslide halfway up the hills in the forests.

“There is always logging debris left on-site because its not merchantable. It has not got a market.”

Nearly 2000 signatures on a petition in 36 hours sums up the anger of the community at the volume of forestry debris washed down from the hills.

Ruatoria resident, and former Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie said there was real anger in the East Coast community at the regulators and the forestry companies.

Slash clogged rivers, broke infrastructure, ruined properties

Woody debris, the majority of it forestry slash from logging in the Uawa catchment area, clogged rivers, broke infrastructure, closed roads and — most devastatingly — ruined three properties in the early hours of Monday morning.

Mr Caddie said many people were not interested in the bureaucratic process at the time that legislation was passed to control what entered the region’s waterways. But when something like this happened, it became clear how important those rules were.

He was not surprised at the popularity of the online petition. The petition, on www.change.org, wants native species to constitute at least half of the trees grown in the next 10 years under the Billion Trees Project. It also asks for stricter controls on the exotic forestry industry to protect soil from erosion and waterways from harvest slash.

“There is a lot of community concern,” said Mr Caddie.

“People want to help immediately and give support for stronger action.”

“They are angry with the regulators and the forestry companies.”

Eastland Wood Council issued a press release yesterday. It said Hikurangi Forest Farms, Ernslaw One and PF Olsens — the Forest Companies operating in the area — wished to acknowledge the devasting impact of this extreme weather event on the Uawa and Tolaga Bay community, and empathised with them.

“All three companies have been up to assess the damage and, as a priority, have offered full support and resources to GDC and Tairawhiti Roads to get roads open, ensure access for landowners, and will do further assessments by helicopter tomorrow.

“The second phase will be clean-up and working with affected landowners.”

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