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The adventure of the slip defying road repair

After being told it would be days before work started on a massive slip on Tora Gorge, locals tooled up and cleared the blockage themselves, well ahead of early estimates.
South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] initially thought the slip could take up to four days to clear, but the Times-Age understands locals cut a route through the debris in less than two and a half hours.
On Wednesday night last week, about 100 households were trapped along Wairarapa’s south coast by the 50-metre-long slip on Tora Rd, caused by the heavy rain event after Cyclone Hale.
The next day locals took to the vast pile of trees, bush and other debris with their own chainsaws. The Times-Age understands residents affected by the slip used a tractor and some chainsaws to clear the bush and drag large trees to the side of the road.
Tora local Kevin Putt was one of those trapped on the coastal side of the slip. He did not work on the road himself but said the slip was opened up by locals on Thursday evening.
One of those involved spoke to The Times-Age on condition of anonymity.
“We got told by the council they were not going to start working on it until Saturday, so we decided to do it ourselves,” the DIY resident said.
“We started about 5pm on Thursday evening and finished at about 7.15pm.”
Using the tractor, they pulled four large trees about 40 metres long off the slip.
“Council workers only started work [at the slip] on Friday after we’d already opened it. We did the hard work.”
On Thursday, council roading contractors were seen working on damage to White Rock Rd some distance away.
A spokesperson for SWDC confirmed on Monday afternoon all roads were open to all vehicles, including Tora Rd.
“However, we are asking motorists to take extreme care, given the nature of the area and the fact that more rain is forecast this weekend,” they said.
SWDC sent at least two heavy diggers to the site at Tora to clear away the rubble, with formal work starting early on Friday morning.
The council initially said the road was closed as of 4pm on Friday, but a council spokesperson later announced, just before 8pm, it was open with limited access.
On Saturday, the Times-Age visited the slip site.
Huge pine trees lay alongside the muddy, pitted road where the debris had fallen. The road was open, with some traffic, although potholes and loose material demanded careful driving.
In addition to the larger slip, the road was punctuated by a number of smaller slips as well as places where parts of the road had fallen into the river gorge.

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