THE Matata Straight is now open in both directions.
Contractors have been working most of the day to clear the slip that blocked State Highway 2 between Matata and Otamarakau.
EARLIER: State Highway 2 resident Linda Burt left her home above the Matata Straight this morning in the dark, unaware there were slips on the road and it was closed.
She said she was driving at 100kmh and noticed a ute parked on the side of the road at a funny angle and thought, “that’s a stupid place to park”.
Then she hit the slip. She said there was no warning, no one around and nothing put in place to warn drivers who lived along the slip-affected road.
“There was mud, rocks and branches. I knew not to slam my brakes on so I just wallowed through [the slip] pumping my breaks and was very, very lucky. I was in my Prado, nice and high with big fat wheels and ploughed my way through.”
She said if there was anything bigger on the road she would have been in serious trouble.
“I stopped and gathered myself and when I carried on I met a guy in Matata diverting traffic and said to him, ‘you have to get some cones and lights on the straights because there are people like us going to work and we don’t know. I just hit that slip at 100ks and I’m lucky to come out the other side’.”
She rang her husband, John Burt, who drove the work truck to the slip and parked in the middle of the road with his hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
Mr and Mrs Burt lived through the 2005 Matata flood and Mrs Burt said they were used to slips, but today was the first time she had driven through one.
“That was quite different. I asked my husband, ‘am I just exaggerating? How bad is it? Because it felt bad’. And he said, ‘it’s pretty bad’.
“I drove straight through it and lived to tell the story.”
Pikowai Road resident Barry Doyle managed to travel through the slips in his Land Rover twice this morning.
He said there were about five slips along the Matata straight and a pohutukawa tree had come down.
“Opposite Murphy’s Motor Camp there’s about 400 metres of silt and branches across the road and there is a car stuck in the middle of it. A low rider ute was buried in about nine inches of silt.
“It’s not pretty. It’s the worst I’ve seen during the four years I’ve lived there.”
According to the Ohinekoao weather station inland at Herepuru, 112 millimetres of rain fell yesterday and overnight.
Herepuru Road resident Matiu Farrance said he travelled to Whakatane this morning and attempted to drive through the slip but did not want to risk damaging his vehicle.
He said he headed through his usual route of Herepuru Road where there was a lot of water sitting in the paddocks and the road was badly washed out.
“Being a man and not wanting to let the storm beat me and my 4x4, I continued down Herepuru Road toward Matata and drove past countless slips and over small trees that I could get over.
“I almost reached the bottom of the road where I came to a major slip which had washed out some of the massive boulders and river rocks from the Matata hills.”
He realised the storm had beaten him and he didn't want to damage his vehicle so turned around and headed back up Herepuru Road to Manawahe Road and from there to Awakaponga.
Mimiha Road resident Paul Burt said from Wednesday afternoon until early hours yesterday morning, there was about 70 millilitres of rain.
“The creeks rose up a bit but there isn’t any real damage. A couple of small slips on the farm.”
He said there was nothing serious at his farm and the soil was fairly waterlogged but if there had been much more rain “there would have been quite a bit more damage”.
State Highway 2 is partially closed due to serious flooding and slips at Matata between Arawa Road and Otamarakau Valley Road.
This morning New Zealand Transport Agency said it would remain closed until 12pm.
At places along the Waimana Gorge, roads are down to one lane at times due to multiple slips.
Drivers should be cautious when travelling through the area.
A slip is blocking lanes on SH35, approximately 500m east of Ngarue Road.
At the Ohinekoao weather station inland at Herepuru, 112 millimetres of rain fell yesterday and overnight.
The Edgecumbe weather station recorded 109 mm of rain during the same time.
At the Kopeopeo weather station 90mm fell yesterday and overnight.
A weather station near Opotiki recorded 62mm of rain during the same time.
Near Murupara a weather station recorded 47mm of rain.