Clean up begins as Cyclone Wilma heads out to sea

02:19, Jan 29 2011
Fire Service staff dig a trench to let floodwaters flow into the sea at Kaiaua.
KAIAUA FLOODING: Fire Service staff dig a trench to let floodwaters flow into the sea at Kaiaua.
Cars are surrounded by floodwaters in Kaiaua. Water levels were up the vehicles' windows during the worst of the flooding.
KAIAUA FLOODING: Cars are surrounded by floodwaters in Kaiaua. Water levels were up the vehicles' windows during the worst of the flooding.
A flooded camping ground at the base of Mount Maunganui.
DAMP CAMP: A flooded camping ground at the base of Mount Maunganui.
State highway 1 at Mata south of Whangarei early Saturday morning.
MATA FLOODING: State highway 1 at Mata south of Whangarei early Saturday morning.
State highway 1 at Mata south of Whangarei early Saturday morning.
MATA FLOODING: State highway 1 at Mata south of Whangarei early Saturday morning.
A flooded dairy farm at Awakino Point, just east of Dargaville.
UNDER WATER: A flooded dairy farm at Awakino Point, just east of Dargaville.
A flooded dairy farm at Awakino Point, just east of Dargaville.
UNDER WATER: A flooded dairy farm at Awakino Point, just east of Dargaville.
A flooded street in central Whitianga.
UNDER WATER: A flooded street in central Whitianga.
A youngster looks at a flooded street in central Whitianga.
UNDER WATER: A youngster looks at a flooded street in central Whitianga.
A house is surrounded by floodwaters in central Whitianga.
ISLAND-LIKE: A house is surrounded by floodwaters in central Whitianga.
A coastline shot from Whitianga.
HIGHER TIDE: A coastline shot from Whitianga.
A motorist negotiates a flooded street in central Whitianga.
EASY DOES IT: A motorist negotiates a flooded street in central Whitianga.
A flooded street in central Whitianga.
OVERFLOWING: A flooded street in central Whitianga.
Waiheke house slide
SAFE LANDING: Two people escaped from this house before it slid down the bank on Waiheke Island.
The main road to Coromandel is blocked with this slip at Ruamahunga Bay on State highway 25, north of Thames.
ROAD BLOCK: The main road to Coromandel is blocked with this slip at Ruamahunga Bay on State highway 25, north of Thames.
Up to 30 guests are stranded at a wedding on Whangapiro Road near Pakiri.
STRANDED: Up to 30 guests are stranded at a wedding on Whangapiro Road near Pakiri. The photographer reports that many cars are under water and guests have been using kayaks to save the neighbour's cows.
Tristan Shaw
YEAH RIGHT: A sign just outside Kaeo.
Flooding at Haruru Falls Resort, three kilometres inland from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
WATER POWER: Flooding at Haruru Falls Resort, three kilometres inland from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
A dramatic shot of the Haruru River as it powers over the falls near the Panorama resort, three kilometres inland from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
WATER POWER: A dramatic shot of the Haruru River as it powers over the falls near the Panorama resort, three kilometres inland from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
A dramatic shot of the Haruru River as it powers over the falls near the Panorama resort, three kilometres inland from Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
FLOODED: The Panorama Resort which has been flooded by the Haruru River in the Bay of Islands.
The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
FLOODED: The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
FLOODED: The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
FLOODED: The Hikurangi swamp area in Northland.
A driveway washed out at Lost Bush Track, Marua, Whangarei.
NO GO: A driveway washed out at Lost Bush Track, Marua, Whangarei. The road was impassable overnight and the photographer was forced to spend the night at a friend's place. When finally making it home, the driveway was discovered washed out.
The main road out of Pauanui is well under water.
WHERE? The main road out of Pauanui is well under water.
Surface flooding around the Dominion Road area in Mt Eden makes the Wendy's carpark and drive-through difficult to access.
NO TAKE-AWAYS: Surface flooding around the Dominion Road area in Mt Eden makes the Wendy's carpark and drive-through difficult to access.
This picture, taken Saturday in Titoki, about 30km northwest of Whangarei, where 225ml of rain fell between midday Friday and 4am on Saturday.
RIVER RE-ROUTED: This picture was taken Saturday in Titoki, about 30km northwest of Whangarei, where 225ml of rain fell between midday Friday and 4am on Saturday.
Clevedon in South Auckland Saturday afternoon.
WATER PLANE: Clevedon in South Auckland Saturday afternoon.

Former tropical cyclone Wilma is now well clear of the North Island, heading quickly out into the Pacific Ocean but leaving a big clean up operation for the island and high winds forecast for the rest of the country.

Apart from the Chatham Islands the system no longer posed a threat to the country, said Weatherwatch.co.nz weather analyst Philip Duncan.

However, strong winds in her wake were now pushing across the nation.  Gale or near gale winds were affecting exposed parts of the Far North, Auckland, Taupo, East Cape, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatu, he said.

Cyclone Wilma hits
FINAL BLOW: A Friday MetService shot showing Cyclone Wilma bearing down on the top of the North Island.

How has the storm affected you? Send your stories and photos to newstips@stuff.co.nz.

In the South Island near gale winds were also pushing into exposed parts of Canterbury, the West Coast and Southland.

The northern part of the North Island is this afternoon cleaning up in Wilma's wake, which raised fears for two people believed missing after their house broke to pieces sliding down a bank and onto the beach at Onetangi, on Waiheke Island, this morning.

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A MetService weather radar shot from Saturday morning showing how far Wilma as moved across New Zealand.
MOVING ON: A MetService weather radar shot from Saturday morning showing how far Wilma as moved across New Zealand.

They were found safe and firefighters also had to use a boat to rescue a man and woman stuck up trees in Pipiwai, 43km northwest of Whangarei.

Around 70 people from Kaeo through to Kawakawa were evacuated overnight, however residents from Kawakawa are returning to their homes as the floodwaters recede. 

About 280mm of torrential rain fell in the eastern hill country of Northland over 12-14 hours from 1pm on Friday, causing substantial damage to the region's road network and some water and sewage treatment plants.

River levels were dropping and much of the floodwater is receding quickly, said Tony Phipps, of Northland Civil Defence.

Most roads around the region are expected to reopen over the next 24 hours with crews working to remove slip debris.

Local councils say a number of areas have been affected by flooding, and some communities are still cut off.

There is still substantial disruption to traffic flows on State Highway 1 _ State Highway  at Dome Valley and SH16 had reponed but Phipps still urged motorists to stay off the roads.

Paihia's water treatment plant was also damaged and residents are being asked to conserve water over the next 24 hours. 

Power outages continue in many coastal communities in the Far North.

Phipps says exposed sewage pipes in Opua and potentially sewage-contaminated floodwaters and harbours are a concern.

There could be health risks from swimming or collecting shellfish from the region's harbours over the next couple of days.

Boaties are also being warned to keep an eye out for any debris or navigational hazards around our harbours and coastline over the coming days.

Wilma's wet legacy saw Mt Maunganui near Tauranga closed to the public until Wednesday after severe mud slides and landslips following torrential rain made the area unsafe.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said driving conditions would remain hazardous as surface flooding and slips on many state highways and roads in the northern Auckland region and Northland.

People should only travel if absolutely necessary. 

''Although the sun has returned to many places, flood waters still persist and we do need to do more detailed inspections in some places to assess slips and other storm-related damage,'' says the NZTA's state highways manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker.  

Bay of Plenty Regional Council rivers and drainage staff are also busy responding to flooding-related calls including over-flowing drains, streams and canals.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board has warned that people should avoid swimming in all rivers, streams and harbours for 48 hours as farm run-off may have contaminated them with sewage. Sewage overflows have also been reported in Tauranga Harbour and residents were urged to conserve water for the next 24 hours.

Numerous roads on the Coromandel Peninsula were closed due to slips today.

Roading contractors were working hard to clear the slips but many roads may remain inaccessible throughout the weekend.

Thames-Coromandel District Council operations manager, Greg Hampton, said ''stormwater and sewage systems are under severe pressure and working at full capacity.''

NZPA