A Bailey Bridge, similar to the one pictured above, will be carried to the isolated Waihopai Valley. But it will take at least a month, and another 18 months to have a permanent bridge in place.
The Waihopai Valley in Marlborough will remain closed for up to four weeks as a temporary bailey comes in from Canterbury, while the rest of the region is in a state of emergency with more rain on the way.
The team at Marlborough’s Emergency Operations Center will be monitoring a small, fast-moving weather system Wednesday night, which is expected to bring some 20 to 40 millimeters to the Marlborough areas.
However, the six-hour downpour is unlikely to lead to significant flooding in the Wairau River.
The team is also monitoring the forecast of a potentially significant weather event early next week and will continue to contact MetService and Niwa for the latest weather information.
* Marlborough racing against the clock with more rain on the way
* Dump truck deliveries for isolated valley while thoughts turn to rain ahead
A council spokesman said this rainfall could hamper road repair work, particularly in the Marlborough Sounds, and emergency response teams would continue to monitor areas already affected.
In light of this forecast, the local state of emergency for Marlborough would be maintained for the time being, he said.
About 35 rural properties in the Waihopai Valley had been isolated from the rest of Marlborough since Saturday when floods swept the Māori Ford Bridge.
Mayor John Leggett said they were working as quickly as possible to get both a temporary and permanent solution.
A bailey bridge would take about a month to be transported from Canterbury.
Rivers overflowing their banks, flash floods and more intense cyclones. How climate change makes flooding more extreme.
The site had to be prepared before the bridge was put in place, but the riverbed would be modified to provide access to the right vehicles at short notice.
“Waihopai Valley residents were quite shocked when they lost their bridge, which also took away their phone line,” Leggett said.
“Residents need to know that there is quite a bit of preliminary work to be done before the bailey bridge can be installed.
“We are looking at a month before the Bailey Bridge is in place and probably 18 months before we get a new bridge in place.
The Marlborough Emergency Management team, the municipality and Marlborough Roads could provide assistance to the residents of Waihopai in the meantime, Leggett said.
Local farmers had offered to use heavy vehicles to cross the flooded ford, depending on water levels.
Rural postman Mike Nesbit, who has worked in the Waihopai Valley for nearly eight years, said he was planning a run Saturday morning to deliver groceries.
The residents of the rural valley mainly communicated via Facebook, as telephone cables were connected to the Māori Ford Bridge and were damaged when the bridge was washed away.
Chorus investigated how the telephone lines could be temporarily restored.
Marlborough raced against time to repair damaged areas before another series of downpours hit the following week.
The municipality’s river team continued to make emergency repairs to violations of the stop bank system.
Work continued on Wednesday along Queen Charlotte Drive to make the road passable and safe for residents, Marlborough Roads staff and emergency services.
Queen Charlotte Drive Admission Times from Picton
Closed from 9am to 12pm tot
Open from 12:00 to 13:00
Closed from 1 pm to 5 pm
Open from 5pm to 7pm
Closed from 7pm with a manned checkpoint until 9am, vehicle and resident registration only.
Other roads closed
Waihopai Valley Road past the Māori Ford Bridge.
Northbank Road past Bartletts Creek bridge. This one currently has 4WD access to the Patriarch.
Kenepuru Road – big slips, underslips and slumps. Still under review.
Kaiuma Bay Road – multiple large slips.
Queen Charlotte Drive from Havelock to Moenui – a great bottom slip and slip. A footpath has been cut out to allow the residents of Moenui to access Havelock.
The middle and upper sections of the Awatere Valley Road have been severely damaged in a number of places and will take time to recover. The damage includes a bottom slip, washed out divers and a washout.
If you need essential supplies and cannot access them, please contact the Municipal Customer Service Center at (03) 520 7400. In an emergency, call 111.
Public health remains in effect for people returning home: www.nmdhb.govt.nz/nmdhb-news-and-notices/category/nelson-marlborough-public-health
SCOTT HAMMOND/ Stuff.co.nz
More rain is expected for the Waihopai Valley area on Monday, which could contribute to the flooding at the dam.