New Zealand: Hawke Bay Council has declared a state of emergency because of the coastal flooding

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The Central Hawke Bay District Council has declared a state of emergency because of the severe effects of flooding in coastal communities. The National Crisis Management Centre at Parliament has also been activated to support the local Civil Defence response and to coordinate government support if it's needed. National Controller David Coetzee says Hawke's Bay will lead the Civil Defence effort but the centre is on hand as back-up. Officials in Hawke's Bay are already meeting to discuss the situation regarding the 80 people evacuated from coastal properties at Waimarama, Ocean Beach, Te Awanga and Clifton on Tuesday and Wednesday. In a separate incident overnight in Napier, a large slip on Breakwater Road between Bluff Hill and the port forced the evacuation of 18 homes. The slip blocked the railway line as well as the road in both directions, and cars are believed to be buried under it. Building inspectors are being sent to the evacuated homes, and Civil Defence says the Earthquake Commission will supply geotechnical engineers. The local Civil Defence manager, Angela Reade, says the severity of the threat to houses is unclear at this stage. Those evacuated have been moved to a temporary welfare centre at Napier Intermediate School.

SH2 closed in two places

State Highway 2 is closed between Bay View and Wairoa, and also further south at Takapau. Other more minor roads remain impassable because of slips and flooding. The road to Ocean Beach is likely to remain closed until at least Friday morning but Clifton is accessible again, and Paul Evans of the Hastings District Council says there should be access to Waimarama soon. A temporary bridge to Waimarama is likely to be installed and opened later on Thursday. Mr Evans says the safety of evacuated people are a top concern for the council. He says there will be monitoring during the day to help decide when they will be able to return to their homes. Officials are going from house to house in Te Awanga to make sure all residents are safe.