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Parts of north-eastern New Zealand are experiencing severe flooding after one month of rain fell in one day.
During the last 24 hours, 97.2 mm of rain was recorded at Gisborne Aerodrome, according to WMO figures. Typical monthly averages for the whole of September stand at around 75 mm.
Flooding has been reported in Gisborne city, closing several roads in the area. Gisborne Civil Defence officials report that State Highway 2 north of Ormond is closed and anyone unable to return to their homes outside of Gisborne would need to find alternative accommodation.
Many rural areas of the East Coast have also seen severe flooding, in particular the small settlement of Te Karaka, where at one point during the day the Waipaoa River was rising at 0.8 metre an hour. Earlier today, civil defence authorities said that evacuation is being considered for Te Karaka residents as further rainfall of around 50 to 70 mm was expected during the evening.
Police say that there are people stranded on the SH2 highway, trapped in their vehicles by flood water. Police are urging motorists to drive with extreme care and to avoid travel on the area’s roads if possible.
Earlier today Senior Sergeant Ross Smith said police were making their way to the vehicles and would check on the motorists and evacuate them if necessary.
“At this stage it has stopped raining in the area and it looks like there may be a break in the weather. But we need to check on these people to make sure they are alright and see if the highway is now passable,” Mr Smith said.
Gisborne Civil Defence officials said that the rain has eased in the district with the rain band now moving south where flooding is causing problems on roads at Nuhaka and Wairoa. A weaker rain band is expected in Gisborne on Thursday morning.
— Finn Rainger (@FinnRainger) September 21, 2015
— Te Hira Pere (@Honperetehira) September 21, 2015
Greetings from Lake Gisborne! Big floods here today after more than 24 hours heavy rain. pic.twitter.com/hwDCvTRYua
— Phil Robinson (@Gizzyphil) September 21, 2015