First baby born after the storm

Isla Grace Elizabeth Wilkes, born 6 January 2018 in Thames. Photo: Supplied.

Not even heavy damage to the Thames Coast Road 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.

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 Road late last 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 Mike.

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 Road, 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 five 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.

The regional tourism organisation, Destination Coromandel, is preparing a campaign to remind the world that the Coromandel is open for business and there is still plenty to do there despite the damage to the Thames Coast Road from the storm tide.

The Thames-Coromandel District Council will be sharing the campaign once it begins in the next week.

Damage assessments

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.

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