Storm-damaged Coast Road doesn't stop baby's birth 12 January 2018 Not even heavy damage to the Thames Coast Road (State Highway 25) could stop Isla Grace Elizabeth Wilkes from being born on Saturday at the Thames Birthing Unit - just one day after the storm tide tore big holes in the road and covered it in debris, making Te Mata parents Mike and Jovana Wilkes wonder if they would make it in time. (Photo: Photo: Isla Grace Elizabeth Wilkes, born 6 January 2018 in Thames.) The Wilkes run Te Mata Lodge alongside Jovana's parents and when Isla Grace was due they had to make the run down the Coast Rd late on Saturday. "I was super impressed - with all the holes, even travelling on Saturday night we got through," says Mike Wilkes. "The real anxious part was - she [Jovana] was calm, but I was convinced she was going to have the baby on the 5th." Isla Grace was born just before midnight on Saturday, weighing in at 8lbs 1oz. Mother and daughter spent three nights in Thames before returning home. "I was blown away by the progress on the road," says Mr Wilkes. Te Mata Lodge is just one of many businesses on the Thames Coast and Coromandel-Colville area that has seen a decline in business since Friday's storm tide. Many of those businesses told our Council's Economic Development Officer - when he visited them yesterday to see if they needed support - that business had begun to pick up again. Te Mata Lodge hasn't had any cancellations, but the usual number of advance bookings has dropped off. They're looking at offering discounts to attract more guests. The Thames Coast Road is open but motorists can expect some delays from stop-go management at some sections while heavy vehicles work on repairing the damage. Speed restrictions are in place past the work sites and where the road surface is rough. The escorted convoy system ended on Wednesday evening. If you're driving the Coast Rd, please watch your speed, be careful of the rough surface in some places and take care passing the work sites. NZTA has prohibited heavy vehicles over 5 tonnes on SH25 between Te Puru and Manaia - these are required to take the alternative route via SH 25A through Kopu and SH 25 on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Otherwise, the Coromandel is open for business as usual! Our regional tourism organisation, Destination Coromandel, is preparing a campaign to remind the world that the Coromandel is open for businesses and there is still plenty to do here despite the damage to the Thames Coast Road from the storm tide. We'll be sharing the campaign on our Council channels once it begins in the next week. Check our Council's weekly What's on in the Coromandel newsletter for upcoming events and look at the Destination Coromandel website www.thecoromandel.com for ideas on what to do and see in our District. Stay up to date on the Thames Coast Rd A new webpage has been set up to provide travel information for the journey from Thames to Manaia www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/sh25 The key traffic and travel source which provides up-to-date information on weather and road conditions nationwide is www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic Important information is also shared via the Transport Agency’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts listed here www.nzta.govt.nz/contact-us/connect-with-us/ You can also call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) to speak to NZTA's call centre team who can provide you with traffic and travel information either before you're travelling or when you're on the road. Damage assessments (Photo: The BBQ at Waiomu Beach is out of action for now.) We've been inspecting all our coastal reserves and infrastructure and there are some hazards and damage to be aware of: Rhodes Park, Thames: salt water damage to fields. Flooding damage in TCA gym and rugby club rooms. Football club/archery and grandstand. Shortland Wharf, Thames: A damaged area has been fenced off and sign-posted. The café and fishmongers are open and there is easy access and plenty of parking available. All other wharfs and jetties have had their initial inspections and are open to the public. Further detailed assessments will be taking place to ensure the structural integrity of the assets and public safety. Bird Hide boardwalk in Thames: Boardwalk twisted and lifted - closed. The Thames Coastal Walkway between Shortland Wharf and Kuranui Bay is open. Kuranui Bay: Grass covered with debris or killed with salt. Tararu Sailing Club: Boat ramp is functional. Roberts St seawall stairway, Tararu: Foundations exposed, wear and tear from waves. Wilson St stairway, Tararu: Completely uplifted and wrecked, footpath uplifted, memorial uplifted. Dangerous, please avoid. Tararu North reserve: Freedom camping area being cleared and cleaned but not likely open until the weekend at the earliest. There is considerable damage to rubbish bins, tables and grassy area 90% covered in 50cm of beach sand and rock. Ngarimu Bay/Thornton Bay: Seat and picnic table and bin swept off, beach stairs 50% washed away. Te Puru Reserve: Widespread debris from beach onto seaside reserve, 3 tables lost, 2 bins, 2-5m of foreshore eroded away in places. Machinery almost finished cleaning reserve, Norfolk pine along the shore undermined, scheduled for topping next week. Boat ramp is open. Waiomu Reserve: 3-5m beach edge lost, BBQ structure completely undermined and is out of action. Seat lost. The large quantity of beach gravel deposited on freedom camping area has been cleared and the area is ready for use. Some asphalt lifted. Waiomu boat ramp: Open. Debris cleared from 50% of car park and upper ramp. Sand across the lower ramp below mid-tide level. Bin and seats lost. Ruamahunga Bay: Boat ramp functional thanks to local community initiative. Tapu Reserve: Debris, erosion and loss of seats and two picnic tables. Freedom camping area closed. Te Mata North: Access road and grass now cleared of debris but freedom camping area closed. Waikawau: Boat ramp is functional. Debris cleared. Amodeo Bay boat ramp: Thanks to the community the boat ramp and access are functional. Shellfish warning Our Parks and Reserves team has this advice about shellfish: "All along the coast are piles of shellfish (oysters) that are now dying and rotting - the smell will get worse and no-one should be eating them." Please keep dogs away from dotterels At least 10 dotterel nest zones have been re-established by DOC because the pairs are trying to nest again. Fences are up but some people are not respecting our rules about keeping dogs on leash and away from the clearly marked nesting zones. With six more weeks in the nesting period the birds are likely to try to lay again or fledge the chicks that survived. Disposing of flood-damaged items (Photo: Flood-damaged items being collected earlier in the week.) We're also still collecting flood-damaged goods from properties until Monday 15 January. If there is no skip bin nearby your property, leave it next to the kerb and it will be collected. Keep damaged whiteware apart from other items because it will be collected separately. These collections are for flood-damaged items only, it is not a chance to clear out the garage or back garden! If you live on the Thames Coast Road and you think access for a removal truck will be difficult, leave your flood-damaged items on the kerbside and the contractor collecting the items will arrange access with the NZTA contractors working on the road. If you have a property on the Thames Coast but live elsewhere and can't get here or don't have family and friends to check your property before Monday, please let us know. Phone 07 868 0200 or email email@example.com. The Thames Refuse Transfer Station (RTS) at 102 Burke St will also accept flood-damaged items free of charge until Wednesday 17 January. The station's hours are at www.tcdc.govt.nz/rts. Septic tanks Some septic tanks and disposal fields may have been filled with a large volume of sand and debris, which will need to cleared or sucked out. If this has occurred at your property and you are unable to adequately flush toilets or you believe it is coming the surface in your property or your neighbours, it needs addressing urgently. Arrange for your septic tank to be cleared, (either yourself or through your insurance company). There may also have been a number of septic tanks that were inundated by sea water. The salt in the sea water will kill the natural bacteria that works away in your septic tanks, so they may not function correctly for a while. However, as long as your toilets can flush, this isn’t an urgent problem. The tanks will generally sort themselves out once they are back in use. EQC cover Some people may be eligible to launch a claim with EQC as well as their private insurer. If you have flood damage to the land around your home, including retaining walls that support the land (not walls that are landscape features only) then contact EQC. EQC does not cover flood damage to your house or its contents. To get EQC cover, you need to have a home or contents insurance policy that includes fire protection with a private insurance company when the natural disaster damage occurred. While it may speed up the process if you make a claim quickly, you have three months from the date of the damage to lodge your claim. EQC recommends launching a claim with them at the same time as you lodge a claim with your private insurer. You can make a claim online on the EQC website or call EQC on 0800 326 243. Feeling stressed? One of the biggest parts of an "event" like last week's storm is the emotional and mental stress people experience, whether they realise it or not. Sometimes it can take weeks before issues start bubbling to the surface. If you feel like you need help, contact your GP in the first instance. If you don't feel able to talk to your GP, we have some resources at Council that we can pass on to you. Contact us on 07 868 0200; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or come into one of our offices. Or, check out the fact sheets on the Civil Defence website. Share your storm-related photos Got some photos of storm tide damage in your area that you'd like to share? Add them to our "Wide Area Damage Assessment Photos" website. It's interactive, just click the above link and follow the instructions to upload your photos. Thanks to everyone who has posted photos on this website, and thanks to everyone who has shared photos, videos and information with us on our Council's Facebook page. Stay updated on weather warnings (Photo: The wharf at Big Sandy Bay during Friday's storm tide.) Whenever we get a warning from MetService about bad weather coming our way, we pass on those alerts on all our communications channels. These updates are available on the News section on the front page of our website, in our email newsletters and on our Facebook and Twitter (@OurCoromandel) accounts. Last week we published our first news of the storm brewing over the Tasman Sea on Tuesday 2 January. Since then we've published more than 20 updates on all our communications channels about the storm, both before and after Friday morning's damaging high tide, with what we knew about the incoming weather front coinciding with very high tides, the response to this weather, and about the ongoing recovery efforts. These updates have reached tens of thousands of individuals. Thank you very much to everyone for their feedback on our communications - both positive and negative. The overwhelming majority of comments have been positive. To stay up to date on weather events and emergency preparedness, follow us on all the above Council channels, plus you can download the Red Cross Hazards app, stay tuned to local radio in your area, visit the Waikato Civil website for information on how to plan for an emergency , and get weather updates from MetService.