Quick thinking saves resident from wall of mud

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 16:00 17/06/2013

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When Darrin Bisley went to check a creek on his Motueka Valley lifestyle block, he narrowly missed being swept away by a slip coming down the gully.

He heard a loud noise, and jumped across the creek to avoid a wall of mud a metre high sweeping down the gully.

From there, Mr Bisley had to walk down to the Motueka Valley Highway and wade through mud like "thick porridge, with lumps", which came up to his crotch, to make it home early yesterday afternoon.

Mr Bisley's 3.2-hectare lifestyle block is near Woodman's Bend at the northern end of the valley, where slips moved his neighbour's housebus several metres and blew out fences on his property.

This morning he was surveying the damage where about a quarter of his property is still under water, destroying winter grazing land.

Motueka Valley resident Barb Le Long said a slip had moved her 10-metre housebus 5m up against a tree on her property.

Posting on Facebook yesterday afternoon, Ms Le Long said a slip containing mud and debris had moved the bus 5m and into a big Norfolk pine.

No-one was injured, but the bus was jammed against the tree with "a mountain of mud up against her".

Although access to the valley was still closed this morning, several residents were able to get out.

Mr Bisley said it took him four attempts to shunt his way through a slip on the Motueka Valley Highway yesterday afternoon, after a grader had cleared a rough path through it.

The highway, like West Bank Rd, Brooklyn Valley Rd, Riwaka Valley Rd and several other roads around Tasman district, remained closed this morning after torrential rain brought down numerous slips.

Several motorists were stranded for two hours between slips on West Bank Rd in the Motueka Valley yesterday afternoon.

Early yesterday afternoon, several large pine trees that had slid off a hillside above 555 West Bank Rd blocked both lanes of the road.

Soon afterwards, a hillside slipped near 150 West Bank Rd, stranding several vehicles in the 4km section between the slips. Dozens of houses were isolated, including those on Peach Island.

Rory Crowther had been trying to get up the valley from Motueka but was turned back by a roadblock at the northern end of the Motueka Valley Highway, on the east side of the river.

He returned to Motueka and drove up West Bank Rd, only to be turned back at the slip at 555 West Bank Rd.

By the time he got to 150 West Bank Rd, a large slip blocked the road there, too. He was stuck for about two hours until a digger cleared the slip.

Below: a video of the Motueka river this morning, posted on the Nelson Mail Facebook wall by Ryan Sim.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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