Floods receding in West Coast, Nelson

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 18:49 15/07/2012
A swing not far from the Buller Bridge, the entrance to Westport. Early this morning the Buller River was at 11.3 metres - its historic high being 11.8 in 1970.
SUBMERGED: A swing not far from the Buller Bridge, the entrance to Westport. Early this morning the Buller River was at 11.3 metres - its historic high being 11.8 in 1970.
The swollen Maitai River in Nelson.
LAURA BASHAM/Fairfax NZ
FLOODED: The swollen Maitai River in Nelson.

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Flooding that cut off the West Coast town of Westport is receding and the road to Greymouth has reportedly reopened.

Heavy rain caused flooding in many parts of the West Coast, Nelson and Marlborough earlier today and flooding closed a number of roads and highways.

Many areas in Westport had suffered surface flooding Civil Defence said local police were "not concerned" about the Buller River.

"I don't know about the status of the river but I would say that it is receding," the Civil Defence spokeswoman said.
 
"I have been told by local police that they don't have any concerns about the river at all."

Earlier, Westport resident Jim Halsall said the Buller River was "looking pretty full".

"It's up to the edge of the road but I've seen that before ... there's some flooding but it looks like it's clearing a little."

Halsall, Westport ward councillor for the Buller District Council, said there had been no access in or out of Westport.
 
"We're quite used to being cut off though, a lot of people don't even know we live here."

He said the river was the highest he had seen it for about 15 years.

"The fire brigade had a few calls over night so I'm presuming they have been pumping water off properties and that sort of thing."

Radio New Zealand reported that Westport was no longer cut off by flooding, with the road to Greymouth now open.

Meanwhile, the Nelson-Tasman region has also been hammered by heavy rainfall but river levels are decreasing.

Nelson Tasman Emergency Management said State Highway 65 would be closed until at least tomorrow morning.

Some properties around the Neds Creek in Murchison had suffered minor flooding but contractors had cleared the area.
The Takaka-Collingwood Highway at the Waitapu Bridge is closed and people should avoid the area.

Maitai Valley Road at Sharlands Creek in Nelson remains closed but the Maitai River is receding.
 
Over the past 24 hours about 250 mm of rain fell in the ranges behing Golden Bay. Takaka received about 200 mm and the Matai River peaked at 7:30am at 2.4 metres, just above an annual flood.

Sandbags had been put in place in some areas.

Rain in the area is forecast to ease throughout the afternoon.  

In Marlborough, police report that two motorists ignored electronic signs indicating road closures and their vehicles ended up in the flooded river in Canvastown this morning.

Senior Constable Maurice Horne, of Havelock Police, said the vehicles had since been retrieved from the river and the occupants were unharmed.

However, the accident could have been easily avoided - motorists needed to take note of road warnings and and closures, he said.

State Highway 63 remains open but heavier class vehicles may have problems.

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A Canvastown resident in the Civil Defence squad had alerted police about flooding at 7.30am before beginning to direct traffic away, Mr Horne said.

While the area had faced similar flooding in the past, Havelock could be isolated if the rain persisted.

Canvastown residents Eric and Karen Davis, who own a lifestyle block next to Racecourse Creek, said the flooding wasn't as bad as the episode on December 28, 2010.

"I can remember it because it was my birthday. We woke up and walked outside and thought 'what's going on here'.  The water come across the road and the rain had washed all the tarmac away there."

Anyone in the area who needed shelter, either for themselves or their stock, was welcome to get in contact, Mr Davis said.

The Marlborough District Council has issued a warning for motorists to take extreme caution on all roads in and out of the region.
 
-State Highway 6 is closed from Havelock to Rai Valley.

-Wakamarina Rd is closed at the Trout Hotel due to severe flooding.

-Wairau Bar Rd is closed just past Ferry Bridge.

-The road on the north side of Ferry Bridge is also closed (Morrins Hollow).

-The Wakamarina River has overflowed its banks in several areas. Canvastown residents are keeping council staff informed, and roading contractors and emergency management staff are monitoring resident welfare.

-A close watch is being kept on the Wairau River, which is expected to peak at midnight.

- The Press

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