The Gisborne District Council has issued a weather warning to residents of the area urging them to prepare for high winds, large sea swells, rain, coastal erosion, road closures and power cuts from late Sunday.
It has also urged those on holiday or living in coastal areas to take particular care as the large swells could cause the seawater to reach further inland.
Gisborne Group Emergency Operations Centre has released a statement assuring the public they are well-prepared for ex-tropical Cyclone Pam and plans have been implemented to minimise the impact on the district and ensure people’s safety.
According to the statement, representatives from more than a dozen agencies worked together this morning to develop a plan as to how each would respond to the major sea surges, rain and wind expected to accompany the aftermath of the ex-tropical cyclone.
The group is made up of Gisborne Civil Defence Emergency Management, Gisborne District Council, Police, Fire, Eastland Group, St John, Tairawhiti Roads, Downer, Fulton Hogan and Tairawhiti District Health.
According to weatherwatch.co.nz, Vanuatu is today in the firing line for Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam, now classified as a Category 5 storm and people are being warned of serious damage.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, winds from Pam may have sustained speeds of 280km/h at the centre with gusts over 330km/h.
It is expected to cross over the Vanuatu region and tomorrow Pam will start to clear Vanuatu and affect parts of eastern New Caledonia as it starts to slide south towards the North Island of New Zealand.
The cyclone’s aftermath is expected to reach the top of the East Coast area by Sunday night and then move down towards Gisborne.
Residents in the East Coast have been advised by the Council not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary.
Tatapouri and Waima Road at Tokomaru Bay – may be closed early to avoid major problems. Nuhiti Road past Anaura Bay may be closed as a precautionary measure. These will be advertised on the Gisborne District Council website.
New Zealanders have been advised to stay up to date with all MetService severe weather outlooks, watches and warnings as Pam approaches, mostly between Sunday and Tuesday.