Thousands in damage after overnight deluge

Last updated 14:20 05/02/2013
flooding
Lauren Dewhirst

WATERWORLD: Flooding in Porirua last night.

Bill Tito
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
STRANDED: Bill Tito surveys the damage to his washed-out driveway after a deluge of rain in Akatarawa Valley overnight.
leonard
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
WATER FEATURE: Leonard Hilton surveys the lake which has formed outside his house.

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Upper Hutt book repair specialist Bill Tito and wife Jane are prisoners in their own home today after almost 80m of their driveway was torn up during last night's torrential "monsoon-like" downpour.

"We've been here 34 years and this is the worst rain we've ever experienced. The water ripped the foundations out from underneath the tar seal driveway," Mr Tito said.

Mrs Tito, a retired primary school teacher who taught at Trentham School, said the couple were on the phone first thing this morning to organise a bulldozer to get repair work underway.

She estimated at least $20,000 worth of damage to the driveway was caused.

The culverts on the Tito's uphill driveway could not cope with the deluge, Mrs Tito said.

Akatarawa Rd between Upper Hutt and Waikanae also looks like a disaster zone this morning with numerous culverts beside the road washed away and filled with debris.

Local farmer Barry McGhie said he had lived in the Akatarawa Valley for about 50 years and it was also the worst rain he had ever experienced.

Mr McGhie and his neighbour Brent Clark, who owns a lifestyle block, were out helping contractors remove dirt from the mangled culverts beside the roadway this morning.

Mr Clark said his garage had been flooded but he had earlier moved his vehicles to higher ground and there was no significant damage to his property.

Contractors expect to be busy on the road for some time this week.

WELLINGTON DELUGED BY HEAVY RAIN

Seven properties were cut off by flooding in Porirua after heavy rains lashed the Wellington region.

About 7 homes on Pukaki Gr in Waitangirua were blocked off this morning by a small lake which  formed at the bottom of the cul de sac.

Leonard Hilton, whose home was lowest among the properties, said it was an issue which had been around for 14 years and the council still had not fixed it.

The road flooded at least once per year and sometimes more, he said.

The flooding began about 6pm last night and by 9am a blockage meant the water could not escape.

The council had been called and the fire service had attended but was unable to drain the lake.

For Pukaki Gr resident Jaymie Baker the flood waters meant he was unable to take his children to school and, with his work truck parked on his property, he could not go to work.

However, he had a four-wheel-drive motorbike, meaning he was able to get to the shops to pick up some food for his children for their day off. It also meant he could ferry his sister to her car, uphill from the floods, so she could get to work.

A month's worth of rain has fallen on Wellington since yesterday - and more is set to fall today.

MetService said 39mm of rain fell at the airport yesterday, and 9mm so far this morning.

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February's average monthly rainfall is around 50mm, MetService duty forecaster Brooke Lockhart said.

Between 50-100mm of rain fell in Wellington between yesterday and 6am today.

Akatarawa Rd just past Crest Rd was closed overnight but had been reopened this morning and could be driven through with care.

There was also some debris on the Rimutaka Hill Rd but traffic was able to get around this morning.

The subway at Epuni train station on the Upper Hutt rail line was filled waist-deep with water last night, and Fire Service crews were called in to pump it out.
 
The weather may also have contributed to a spate of motor vehicles accidents during the morning commute into Wellington.

Two people suffered minor injuries from two crashes on Hutt Rd, Pipitea and Riddiford St, Newtown before 9.30am.

A car also hit an object on Ngauranga Gorge just after 8am.
 
While the heavy rain warning over the Tararua Ranges had eased today, the rain will continue through the morning, before turning to showers this afternoon, Ms Lockhart said.

The showers should clear early tomorrow morning, and fine weather was forecast for the rest of the day.
Another high would then move over the country, and the sunshine should remain through to the end of the week.

Today's heavy rain was a combination of two fronts, one from the south and the other from the west, combining over Wellington, Ms Lockhart said.

Fire service shift manager Murray Dunbar said the service got 67 callouts in the greater Wellington region between 8-10.30pm last night with several properties flooded.

Mr Dunbar said the rain seemed to have coincided with a high tide, leaving the water with nowhere to go.
Wellington and Kapiti recorded 150 lightning strikes over the evening, he said.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Frith said a blocked culvert caused flooding on state highway 1 near Paekakariki last night.

Traffic had to be diverted via side roads until the blockage was cleared at 4am.

- The Dominion Post

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