Storm blocks road in New Zealand

Storm blocks road in New Zealand

WELLINGTON – The Associated Press
Storm blocks road in New Zealand

Mudslides blocked the only road to a small New Zealand town yesterday after a powerful Pacific storm caused disruptions across parts of the country.

The 1,000 tourists and 5,000 locals in Takaka are not entirely trapped, but would have to use a boat, helicopter or small plane to leave town now or wait a week or more before the road is cleared and repaired.

The storm that hit late Feb. 20 was the remnants of Cyclone Gita, which last week ripped through the Pacific nation of Tonga, destroying homes, churches and the historic Parliament House.

The winds weakened as the storm moved on an arc through the Pacific. But the heavy rains were enough to cause disruptions in New Zealand, although the country escaped major damage.

Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the main concern was ensuring Takaka had enough fuel and food. He said he’d been working with civil defense authorities to ensure supplies were being brought in by boat.

The town is at the north end of South Island and is near Abel Tasman National Park, popular for its hiking and stunning beaches. Kempthorne said people in Takaka remained in good spirits.

“They’re holding up fine, they’re quite resilient and self-sufficient,” he said.

He said about 80 people from the nearby town of Riwaka had evacuated overnight due to fears their homes would be flooded.

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