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Massive slip traps Tora community

About 100 households are estimated to be trapped along Wairarapa’s south coast as a large slip at Tora closes the only road to the area.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] confirmed that the households were on the coastal side of the landslide. A spokesperson said yesterday that the exact number of people isolated and the full level of impact was being determined.

The slip on Tora Rd at Little Tora is thought to be about 50 metres long. In the North Tora Gorge, it involves both earth and vegetation. The debris could take up to four days to clear, although this is being assessed.

The council called an emergency meeting early yesterday to address the issue.

The size of the slip meant council workers were unable to clear it in the usual way, and SWDC will use information from a helicopter survey and other sources to help assess the problem.

Heavy machinery could be needed.

Tora resident Kevin Putt described the impact on locals.

“We can’t get in or out. The road is completely cut off,” he said.

“If someone had a heart attack or seizure, they’d need a helicopter.

“The slip is only part of the problem. The other part is it’s a very dangerous road which needs substantial repair.”

SWDC roading manager, Tim Langley said floodwaters would need to recede and work would continue to clear the slips and assess the state of the roads as soon as possible.

“These may take several days to clear fully. The council is sourcing an additional excavator that is large enough to clear a slip of this scale at Little Tora”.

The damage has blocked access to both Tora and Te Awaiti.

South Wairarapa District Mayor Martin Connelly said the council’s main focus at this stage was on communicating with those who live on the affected road, and ensuring their welfare.

“We are keeping up frequent and effective communications with this part of our community,” he said.

“So far, we believe that there are no immediate welfare needs that the community requires. We have checked the campgrounds and believe no tourists or travellers are affected.”

Connelly said SWDC was liaising with other councils in the region to ensure that the emergency response was well-resourced.

“We urge residents who are working on clearing slip damage to be very careful and not put themselves in any danger,” he said.

Some Tora residents were without power for a while, although this has been restored.

PowerCo was scheduled to fly a helicopter over Tora yesterday to assess the power infrastructure and other damage.

“I am confident that the council has this matter under control, that we are communicating with people who are cut off. The local community will be kept fully informed,” Connelly said.

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