Coromandel residents brace themselves for Cyclone Cook

By Mānia Clarke

Cyclone Cook is gathering strength and has made landfall in the central North Island.

Most residents on the Coromandel Coast had self-evacuated to higher ground by early morning as the cyclone threatened extensive flooding in the region.

Most of the low-lying areas around the coast were evacuated overnight and this morning.

One major concern has been the overflow of the Tapu River in the Coromandel Peninsula, which could be close to breaching its banks.

Waves along the coast are expected to reach up to 5m high and access between Thames and Coromandel has been cut off.

Six welfare teams will be on alert and on stand-by throughout the night. Residents on the Thames coast are bracing themselves for another onslaught.

Te Puru resident, Nicole Miell says, “I think we're all just a bit over it actually. We'd just like to have a chance for things to dry out and yeah, recover really.”

Access into Whitianga and Coromandel has been cut off, frustrating locals and holidaymakers.

Sean Campbell of Traffic Management NZ says, "The hindrance is when we go under full road closure. The alternate route is 25A, so basically travel time escalates to another 3 hour travelling time." 

Businesses were also feeling the brunt of the weather but are putting safety first.

Richard Shrubsall says, “We won't be but we also got a lot of property to protect as well so we'll be hanging around to make sure we look after that. Just currently getting our generators all serviced, fuelled up just in case.”

Residents along the SH25 Thames Coast Road have been asked by the NZ Fire Service to self-evacuate.

Terry Mackay from New Zealand Fire Service says, "We've just been asked to inform the people in low-lying area to evacuate the higher ground. We assume because they're concerned about tide surge when the tide comes in." 

For those with nowhere to go, Civil Defence has set up safe centres at Coromandel St John Ambulance, Whitianga Town Hall, Tairua Hall , Whangamata Town Hall, and the Thames Civic Centre.