Flash flood and logs trap Bay of Plenty couple in house
A couple heard the rumbling minutes before a log-strewn flash flood smashed into their house, trapping them inside.
Bevan Smith and Angela Page were at their Galatea home on Troutbeck Rd, in the Bay of Plenty, when flood waters and debris blocked their escape.
Bevan Smith's sister, Debbie Smith, said the couple were shaken but uninjured. They were at a friend's home on Friday morning.
"It was a build up of old logs and timber that smashed into the house," she said.
"It was about 6.45am and they just heard this rumbling. They heard it coming and didn't know what it was."
Smith said the couple's house is behind the Galatea Flat Hills and recent flash-flooding in the area was most likely the cause.
"Bevan called me because they couldn't get through to emergency services and they were stuck in the house," she said.
"It was just them and their two dogs, who are like their kids, so it was pretty scary."
The fire service were unable to reach the couple as the logs and flood water surrounded the house.
Three vehicles and a large freezer had also been washed away.
Bay of Plenty police spokesman Senior Sergeant Chris Sommerville said police had to call in search and rescue and attempted to reach Smith and Page in a raft.
"The water was sitting at window-height when we got there and there was just debris everywhere," he said.
"A local person had a tractor and digger and they were able to get through and reach the couple."
Smith said the entire contents of her brother's home was damaged.
"It was a freaky thing that happened and there is a lot of damage but it's only material things," she said.
"All that matters is that they are OK and not hurt.
"We're thankful we live in a great community too, because the farmer down the road brought his tractor down and got them out."
Northern fire communications shift manager Scott Osmond said the house was located near a river and there was heavy rain in the area the night before.
MetService issued a severe weather watch for parts of the North Island, including heavy rain and localised downpours in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel Peninsula areas.
Forecasters were expecting downpours of rainfall in the early part of Friday measuring up to 40mm, enough to cause flash flooding.
Whakatane Council had reported surface flooding in the Whakatane township.
Troutbeck Rd was closed.
And in the eastern Bay of Plenty area, Ruatahuna Rd was closed by a large slip, just past Te Whatai, and Galatea Rd was also affected by slips and fallen trees at Waiohau Hill.