Flood swallows up Bay of Plenty farms and crops video

MALCOLM GROWDEN/FACEBOOK

Aerial footage over Edgecumbe shows the extent of flooding in the region.

First it was Waikato, now it is farmers in Eastern Bay of Plenty to feel nature's wrath and severe flooding.

Whakatane dairy farmer Rob Simpson can only look from a distance as access to his 90 hectare farm has been cut off by the rising Whakatane River and left it 80 per cent under water.

When he arrived on Thursday morning after driving 20 minutes from his home, he was greeted by water everywhere.  The river next to the dairy farm had risen over a metre from heavy rain the previous 24 hours.

"It's really grim," he said. "The Whakatane River is a metre higher than it's ever been before. 

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"Eighty per cent of our farm is underwater and we have no electricity and I have [relief] milkers out there but can't get access myself because there is a little point in the road where the river has come across it and I can't get to it."

Many of the farms surrounding Whakatane and Edgecumbe have been hit by severe flooding.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

Many of the farms surrounding Whakatane and Edgecumbe have been hit by severe flooding.

Simpson said he has experienced five or six similar floods, but this had been the worst. He will need a generator to milk his 290 cows as soon as he can gain access to the property.

Access to the farm and flooded Bay of Plenty township of Edgecumbe has been prevented by road blocks.

About 20ha of Simpson's farm was above water, and he had some moderately high ground which he was using to keep his herd safe as long as flood levels did not continue to rise.

Residents of the Bay of Plenty town of Edgecumbe were evacuated after the Rangitaiki River breached its banks in a ...
PAUL ROONEY/SUPPLIED

Residents of the Bay of Plenty town of Edgecumbe were evacuated after the Rangitaiki River breached its banks in a "one-in-500-year event".

"We also have young stock that we will shift onto another property as soon as we have trucks to the farm."

He said a herd home on the property would be vital in the coming weeks for getting his cows properly fed and off wet paddocks.

"It's going to be fantastic to have that over the next few days," he said.

The flooding has put extra stress on stop banks, limiting access and causing evacuations in Edgecumbe.

Simpson expected the flooding would have wrecked most of his fences and it had become a routine job repairing and replacing them based on previous floods.

Whakatane maize grower Colin MacKinnon said there was some surface water and mud on his farm, but there were other farms in the district badly affected.

A day earlier, the tail end of Cyclone Debbie drenched North Waikato.
SUPPLIED

A day earlier, the tail end of Cyclone Debbie drenched North Waikato.

"The situation's verging on serious. The farms alongside the Whakatane River will be in bad shape. There are a lot of crops seriously underwater and could be lost."

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They would be filled with silt and he was unsure if they would be salvageable.

The flooding has forced Fonterra to temporarily shut down its Edgecumbe factory and closed its Farm Source store as staff are preparing low-lying parts of the site for potential flooding.

Staff not involved in the preparations were being sent home and half of the team had already left the site, Fonterra's head of Farm Source Bay of Plenty Lisa Payne said.

"The welfare of our staff, farmers and their animals is our number one priority. At this stage, the stopbank on the river where our site is located has held, but there is a possibility that we may evacuate the site later in the day if the river level continues to rise.

"Road closures are causing delays with some milk collections in the immediate area. Our Farm Source team is contacting impacted farmers directly."

Hauraki-Coromandel Federated Farmers president Kevin Robinson said the rain had hit their region hard.

"It's the most water I have ever seen on the Hauraki Plains to be honest."

There were many farms that had flooded paddocks and would cause widespread pasture damage unless the waters receded quickly.

Further west in Waikato, the rain had largely passed and the mop up has begun.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis had 25mm overnight on his farm at Pukeatua and said the worst of it had passed and farms had largely escaped major damage.

He urged farmers suffering damage or who were under stress from the flooding to seek help from the Rural Support Trust or Federated Farmers.

Taupiri farmer Steven Stark said they had no substantial rain overnight. There were a few slips after heavy rain, but it could have been a lot worse.

"Luckily it didn't. I know there's high water around, but it's nothing worse than a week ago."

 - Stuff

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