Paihia's water supply recovers

12:10, Jul 13 2014
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Flooding around the back streets of Moerewa in the Far North.
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A truck rolls in the high winds on state highway 1, north of Wellsford.
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The Hururu Falls in full roar as floods waters pass through Northland. A woman was swept away as floods water rose early this morning.
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Flood waters inundate Moerewa.
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A large slip blocks the State Highway 1, south of Kawakawa.
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Moerewa resident Maria Strongman, with son Karena 2, and daughter Jennifer 3 seeking refuge as water floods their home.
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Hakawa Livingstone takes care of the essentials as flood waters move through Moerewa.
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Flooding around the back streets of Moerewa in the Far North.
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State highway 14, north of Whangarei is blocked with floodwaters.
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The road linking Kawakawa to Pihia blocked with floodwaters at Lemon Hill.
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New mode of transportation - Moerewa in the Far North.
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Locals out to assessing the flood damage - Moerewa.
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An elderly Moerewa resident waits for the fire service as flood waters enter her house.
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A rural fire fighter takes a break while she can during a call out to a flooded section in Moerewa.

The unexpectedly low water supply of Paihia is recovering, after a situation Northland officials described as "ironic" given the amount of rain that has fallen in the area.

The flooded Waitangi River had too much silt for Paihia's water treatment plant to handle and the area's water supply got down to just 15% of capacity by mid-afternoon.

Urgent calls were made for residents to restrict their use of water, but this initially led to people stock-piling water, Far North District Council said. 

Council spokesman Rick McCall said a second call went out and the demand eased.

The reservoir levels had risen to about 27 per cent full, and though the plant was operating at reduced capacity, the reservoir was expected to recover fully overnight.

McCall said it was ironic that a water shortage was a problem given the amount of rain that had fallen on them in the past few days.

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Areas of the Far North broke their entire-month rain records in less than 13 days.

Metservice forecaster Frances Russell said Kaikohe, for example, had experienced 509ml of rain in the first 13 days of July, most of it falling during the recent storm.

Kaikohe's previous July record was 411ml, and that was for the entire month.

Though only scattered showers are forecast for Monday, there is still a lot of surface water in the areas around Moerewa and Kawakawa.

McCall said there were still families unable to return to their homes.

Portable toilets had been delivered to the area as floodwaters had damaged many septic tank systems, he said.

"We've been making steady progress but it's going to be quite a long time before everything's back to normal," he said.

McCall said a washout had closed SH1, near Maromaku Rd south of Kawakawa.

Bypasses were in place, though only one has been able to take the heavy traffic required to re-supply retailers whose stocks were dwindling.

It would be an estimated three to five days before the highway was repaired for traffic, he said.

SH14 from Whangarei to Dargaville had also experienced "significant flooding" and was reduced to one lane. Motorists were advised to avoid the area.

Top Energy spokesman John Wansbone said of the 650 households without power on Saturday night, 420 had been restored.

There were still scattered patches without power in Opua, parts of the Hokianga, Rangiputa, Teria and Te Kao.

It was estimated all but 100 homes would be restored to power by Monday night, he said.

Minister for Civil Defence Nikki Kaye announced she would visit the flood-affected areas to assess whether central government assistance was needed, possibly by way of mayoral relief funds.

Kaye said she was "reassured" that the ministry and the Northland civil defence emergency management group were working together. 

"The response continues to be well managed by Northland. Welfare centres have been set up to meet the needs of families, and the Rural Support Trust has been actively engaged in working with farmers to begin cleaning up affected areas. I am particularly impressed at how well community plans have been activated."

Kaye said the regions around Moerewa and Hikurangi would "likely be affected for several days".

"Eleven houses have been evacuated in Moerewa and a civil defence welfare centre had been up and running, which has now been stood down. Farmers and a number of horticulturists in the Hikurangi region and across Northland have sustained significant damage to pastures and farms, and we will look closely at what assistance can be provided."

Residents of the area said clean-up was now the main task.

Moerewa volunteer Laurie Anderson said everyone had left the temporary community relief centre as the flood waters had receded.

He said there was a lot of debris but the community was helping clean it up.

A man at the Falls Hotel near Haruru Falls, who declined to be named, said the Waitangi River was still swollen but was within its banks.

The task now was "drying out and cleaning up", he said.

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