Manawatu roads still in poor condition as residents clean up
State Highway 3 between Whanganui and New Plymouth has reopened, but motorists are being advised against non-essential travel.
The New Zealand Transport Agency's central regional performance manager Mark Owen said the road condition was "poor", with debris, slips, surface flooding and one-lane restrictions still operating in some places.
He urged those who did have to travel to allow extra time for their journey.
Crews were continuing to work on the Manawatu Gorge road, which was impeded by a number of smaller slips.
It was expected to remain closed for a few days, but an update on progress would be made on Monday.
The Saddle Rd, one of the alternatives to the Gorge Rd, remained under stop-go control, while the Pahiatua Track was closed.
A pump had been deployed to remove water from the flooded area of State Highway 1 near Marton, and it was hoped the road would reopen on Sunday night.
A cold blast was on its way and the NZTA would be monitoring the weather to ensure as many route options were available as possible in the event of snow-related closures, Owen said.
* Road closures
* Hundreds flee rising floodwaters
* Waitotara evacuated during wet night
In Feilding, residents Dee Smith and Dave Hill, whose home is near Makino stream, spent Sunday clearing silt and mud the silt and mud from their backyard.
Clean up began early Sunday morning and Smith estimated it would take about a week to clear the entire lawn.
Dee Smith and Dave Hill clean up. Photo: Kathryn King/Fairfax NZ
"We've been at it for about three hours, we've barely made a dent.
"It's just back-breaking work."
"It's no where near as bad as last time," Smith said.
Despite warnings not to rubberneck, Palmerston North residents descended on the banks of the Manawatu River early Sunday to catch a glimpse of the fallout from the weekend's rain.
Manawatu, Rangitikei, Horowhenua and Tararua were hit hard by the rain in the past 24 hours to Sunday morning, which has closed roads, flooded houses and forced people to evacuate their homes.
The Manawatu River is sitting at 7.1 metres at the old Teachers' College monitoring site, which is considered a seven-year flood level.
The flood gates are expected to be operational until late Monday.
Cleanup crews are working in Palmerston North's Escort Grove cleaning up flood water which has been contaminated with sewage.
Residents of Escort Grove and Otira Pl have been advised not to walk in barefoot, wash any flood-affected vehicles and undertake basic hygiene after floodwaters were found to be contaminated with sewage.
Cleanup crews are working in the Awapuni streets, on Sunday.
Palmerston North City Council water and waste services manager Rob Green said the streets were in a low geographical area of the city and when sewage got backed up at the waste water plant, it had come out manholes in the streets when it had nowhere else to go.
There would be an investigation as to why that had occurred, he said.
A cleanup crew with "sucker trucks" was likely be at the streets for most of the day.
The trucks would suck the floodwater into tanks to be taken to the waste water plant, and any other material that was left behind would have to be picked up by hand, he said.
Lime would be put down to neutralise any contamination.
Ray McIndoe, from Palmerston North City Council's Civil Defence management team, said the team had been working in the area for the past hour.
The council has advised people to treat anything submerged by flood waters as contaminated.
Escort Grove's flood waters are believed to be contaminated with sewage. Photo Janine Rankin/Fairfax NZ
Palmerston North resident Barb Patterson said she had already been doing the rounds of the sights, before arriving at the Ruahine St river access.
"We've done at the end of Roberts Line and we've been to Te Moto Rd," Patterson said.
The river was swollen, but contained.
She said it was lucky the banks had been extended.
"Last time it was like this was 2004. [There] would still be more [coming] down from up-country."
Quentin Moss was looking at the flooding from beneath the Fitzherbert Bridge.
He drove back to Palmerston North on Saturday night, over the Saddle Rd, after the State Highway, Pahiatua Track and Manawatu Gorge were closed.
Moss had heard the Saddle Rd was closed, but he though he would "just give it a crack".
Water was running over from the paddock next to the road, he said.
"It was rolling over like a stream."
Shane Hulena decided he would check out the river on his way to work in Bulls.
"I've never seen it like this."
He was in Taihape during the 2004 floods, when the area was last badly hit, but was mostly slips for the town, he said.
The street near his house, in Milson, was flooded on Saturday night.
"My neighbour called me and said, "bro, go out and have a look".
"It's pretty scary, isn't it?"