Whiritoa bears brunt of Coromandel flooding

Teresa Ramsey/STUFF.CO.NZ

Floodwaters at Totara, near the Kauaeranga River bridge leading into Thames.

A woman had to be rescued from her car after a flash flood which forced Coromandel residents from their homes on Wednesday.

The woman became trapped on the Manaia Stream Bridge after her car started filling with water about 8am. 

She made it out of the car and into the floodwaters before being rescued by local fire crews, a Fire Service spokesman said. 

The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to Thames Hospital to retrieve a woman in labour. Crew took this ...
WAIKATO WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOPTER

The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to Thames Hospital to retrieve a woman in labour. Crew took this photo on the return journey.

Heavy rainfall, up to 45mm in total, left others trapped in their homes and has cut off some Coromandel towns entirely.  

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Pauanui fire crews helped to rescue a family from their home on Hikuai Settlement Rd, in Duck Creek, Thames, just after 6am on Wednesday.

Motorists get turned back at a cordon between Waihi and Whangamata as contractors work to clear slips.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

Motorists get turned back at a cordon between Waihi and Whangamata as contractors work to clear slips.

The house was flooded and water levels were at knee height, a Fire Service spokesman said.  

Several shops and homes were also flooded in Whangamata, and some occupants were evacuated with their belongings. 

Heavy floodwaters also caused a slip, taking out the corner of a home in Onemana, just north of Whangamata. 

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames.
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames.

Nearby Whangamata residents have been left with phone outages, limited petrol and wastewater issues after a deluge of rain continued to hammer the beachside town.

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COROMANDEL COMPLETELY CUT OFF

Flooding cut off access to the entire Coromandel Peninsula early on Wednesday morning after a night of downpours closed accessible roads. 

Shops and banks, including the Westpac and Kiwibank, are closed due to flooding after heavy rain overnight and into ...
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Shops and banks, including the Westpac and Kiwibank, are closed due to flooding after heavy rain overnight and into Wednesday morning.

By 10am State Highway 25 from Kopu to Thames had reopened, allowing access through the western side of the peninsula. But in the south eastern ward hit hard by heavy rain Whangamata remained cut off. 

Some Whiritoa residents had been evacuated to the local surf club. 

"Information indicates Whiritoa has been badly affected, and are commencing evacuations to the local surf club. Multiple people stranded in vehicles due to slips. Access was attempted from either side with no result," Thames District Council reported. 

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames. Heavy rain overnight on March 7 caused flooding around Thames.
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames. Heavy rain overnight on March 7 caused flooding around Thames.

Heavy rain has caused flood damage to the fire station and properties throughout the township, which is isolated by slips on either side. 

'QUITE A LOT OF DEBRIS'

Two major slips and six to eight minor slips on the road between Whangamata and Whiritoa had blocked access south. North of Whangamata flooding has closed the road at Opotuere. 

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames. Heavy rain overnight on March 7 caused flooding around Thames.
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Flooding along State Highway 25, just south of Thames. Heavy rain overnight on March 7 caused flooding around Thames.

"At this stage we have quite a few slips come down and quite a lot of debris across the road," NZTA contractor Allen Scholtz said from Whiritoa. 

"We are working hard on the big ones now and if we get lucky we will get people through late afternoon, but at this stage anything else can still come down while the rain is here."

He hoped to move traffic through one lane by the mid-afternoon but warned if rain continued more slips were possible and the road would close again. 

Maramarahi Rd in Totara, near Thames, is closed due to flooding on Wednesday morning
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Maramarahi Rd in Totara, near Thames, is closed due to flooding on Wednesday morning

Whiritoa Fire Brigade had to rescue one motorist whose car had been damaged by floodwaters. 

"There's people stuck in the Ramarama Hills because they can't go either road and there's people stuck in Golden Valley," a brigade spokesperson said. 

"We rescued a couple of people out of vehicles - one car has been quite badly damaged."

Maramarahi Rd in Totara, near Thames, is closed due to flooding on Wednesday morning
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Maramarahi Rd in Totara, near Thames, is closed due to flooding on Wednesday morning

He said a few residents in the low lying village area had evacuated to the surf club following the low tide earlier and had since returned home. 

"But within the next three hours the tide is coming back in so we will be expecting the same thing again."

In Whangamata multiple businesses were flooded, the wastewater network was contaminated.

Coroglen saleyards were flooded by torrential rain on Wednesday morning.
FRANK DYER

Coroglen saleyards were flooded by torrential rain on Wednesday morning.

RESIDENTS EVACUATED

Residents in Whangamata, Tairua, Pauanui and Onemana are being asked not to flush unless essential as the wastewater network is under pressure. 

No fuel was available in Whangamata at 8.30am, according to Thames Coromandel District Council and phone lines are also down - both Spark and Vodafone are reporting outages in Whangamata and Whitianga.  

Three homes have been evacuated in the township. 

Two other houses in the nearby township of Onemana have been damaged by a slip. The residents have all been accounted for and relocated. The house is unstable due to flooding on SH25A, council reported. 

Most of the Coromandel Peninsula is cut off due to severe flooding along the eastern and western side near Thames.
NZTA

Most of the Coromandel Peninsula is cut off due to severe flooding along the eastern and western side near Thames.

Two other houses in Tairua have been evacuated due to flooding and residents of six to 10 homes in Kaiaua have left their homes and are being looked after by friends and family. Sand bags are being dispatched for those residents at the local fire station. 

In Pauanui all road access is closed and the town is severely flooded, council said. Houses along Duck Creek at Hikuai have been flooded and the fire service is unable to get through due to excess water. 

At Maratoto Valley a group of college students at Maratoto camp are being relocated Paeroa War Memorial Hall. There are also reports of 20 campers at a DOC campground in Wentworth Valley.

Severe flooding has shut down SH25 from the Kopu Hikuai Rd north to Tairua.

Civil Defence centres are on standby to accommodate people needing assistance if required at the Whangamata Hall and the Pauanui Community Centre. 

"At the moment they are looking at whether they need to set those up if they need them," Thames Coromandel District Council communications manager Laurna White said. 

"The south eastern ward of the Coromandel is experiencing flooding, particularly Whangamata, Hikuai, Tairua and Pauanui and Opoutere.

"We are also getting reports of trees down around Opoutere and power outages around Whangamata."

"If you are in this area or thinking of travelling to or from these areas we are asking people to please stay off the roads."

POWER RESTORED TO 6000 HOMES

Just before 6am, power was restored to 6064 customers in Whangamata after a slip caused by flooding cut supply to the main line supplying the town about 3.30am.

An estimated 600 homes remained without power in Whitianga, Coromandel and Whangamata areas at 11am. 

"Powerco field crews are working to get power restored to about 600 customers. Road closures due to flooding in the affected areas were hampering efforts for some crews to get to affected sites," Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said.

"Field crews are trying to get to areas affected by power cuts and get your power back on as quickly and safely as possible," he said. 

Power to several hundred customers in affected areas has been restored as field crews have been able to gain access.

"Landslips following rain can bring down power poles and lines and power lines can kill. Keep yourself, children, pets or livestock well clear of downed power lines and treat all lines as live at all times. 

"If you see a downed power line, call emergency services on 111 immediately," Marsh said. 

Rubbish collection trucks are unable to get to Coromandel Town, Thames, Thames Coast and Manaia due to flooding so there are no rubbish collections.  

Refuse Transfer Stations at Whangamata and Pauanui are closed due to flooding as well.

Thames, Mercury Bay and Coromandel Town areas have been affected by flooding.

"There are power cuts around the Whangamata area and we are getting further reports of flooding around parts of Whitianga and the Kauaeranga Valley.

"We are asking people to please stay off the roads around the Southern Coromandel," White said.

At this stage no homes have been evacuated but White said Civil Defence is preparing for this in case it is needed. 

"We are reaching out to people through social media to let us know what they are experiencing so we can get contractors out on site."

SCHOOLS, SHOPS CLOSED

A number of schools and businesses around the Coromandel are closed. 

One third of the shops in Thames township are closed after workers were unable to reach their workplaces on Wednesday morning. 

Flooding in Pollen St in Thames has closed Work and Income offices and the Westpac bank. 

Whangamata Area school, Waitakaruru School, Parawai School Thames, Thames South School, Matatoki School and Moanataiari School are all closed. 

None of the Thames High School or Whenuakite buses are running and buses from Mangatangi and Kaiaua have been cancelled. Waihi Goldfields vans running to Paeroa have also been cancelled.

No school buses are operating in parts of the Coromandel including Tairua, Pauanui, Thames and Hikuai, or for Opoutere school, Oreri Point School and Kawakawa Bay. 

'IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE'

Due to the heavy rain and ongoing bad weather, Waikato police are urging people to avoid any unnecessary travel around the Coromandel Peninsula.

Senior Sergeant Dean Anderson from Waikato District Command Centre said several main roads are already water-logged or flooded and the area is effectively cut off.  

"More rain is forecast for the rest of the day and high tide is still to come.

The situation is just going to get worse, he said. 

"Anyone who doesn't need to travel is asked to stay away. We're getting reports of people driving to see the flooding and getting caught out. It's not worth the risk."

A bus got into trouble travelling through Coroglen, cars in floodwaters had to be towed out and Coastguard had been called out to help troubled boats, Anderson said. 

"If you do need to travel, please be careful."

In the 24 hours to 8.15am Wednesday  Waikato Regional Council recorded 407mm of rainfall at it's Pinnacles measuring station in the Coromandel ranges midway between Thames and Tairua. 

Queens Head near Waihi recorded 103mm in the same period, while Mangatangi near Kaiaua recorded 194mm.

Waikato police Senior Sergeant Greg Foster said earlier a car has struck a downed tree on Maungatautari Rd, about 3kms south of Taane Road.

The tree is blocking both lanes, making the road impassable. There are no injuries to anyone in the car, he said. 

A large tree is down on Tairua Road, about 2km north of the Opoutere turn off.

"Contractors are struggling to get to this due to road flooding," Foster said. 

On State Highway 2 at Maramarua 30cm deep water is covering both lanes, causing road surface flooding, Foster said. 

In Tairua firefighters were called to pump water out of the backyard of a home before it encroached on the house, fire chief Chris New said. 

Water levels at the back of the property were about 600mm deep and close to going in the back door, he said. 

"There's plenty of water there - but the roads are closed so we can't go anywhere."

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato and Bay of Plenty just before 10pm on Tuesday. 

The warning was in place until 8am.

MetService expected very heavy rain to hit areas from Northland down to the Taranaki and the northern Bay of Plenty over Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

On Thursday, heavy rain is forecast to hit the north of the country again after mostly clearing out on Wednesday afternoon.

Road issues/closures

  • SH 25 Tairua To Sh25A is closed
  • State Highway 25 is closed south of Tairua. There is a detour in place to the north of Whitianga. It will add an hour one hour and twenty minutes to a journey.
  • State Highway 25 is closed north of Whangamata at Opoutere. No detour available.
  • State Highway 25 is closed near Whangamata. Detour is through Whangamata town.
  • Flooding on State Highway 25, near Hikuai Settlement Road. 
  • Tree down on Tairua Rd approximately 2km north of the Opoutere turn off. 
  • Flooding on State Highway 2, Maramarua 
  • Major slip on the Waihi Whangamata Road just north of Whiritoa.
  • Tree down on Maungatautari Road.
  • Road Is Closed Between Opoutere Rd And Liddle Rd
  • State Highway south of Coroglen Bridge is flooded.
  • Surface flooding on SH2 Mangatarata - both directions, SH25 Totara in Thames, Normanby Road Paeroa, Paeroa Kopu Road, Parry Palm Avenue Waihi.
  • Rising river levels from the Kauaeranga River near Thames means State Highway 25 south of the town is being closed off.

School closures

  • Whangamata Area school
  • Waitakaruru School closed today
  • Parawai School Thames
  • Thames South School 
  • Matatoki School Closed 
  • Moanataiari School closed 

 - Stuff

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