Cut-off islanders should be 'free' soon

Residents stranded following slip

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 18/06/2013
Walker family
ALASTAIR PAULIN/FAIRFAX NZ
MESS: Vicky and Justine Walker and their children Lauren and Bryce, look where Peach Island Rd has been washed away

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Three days of isolation should end today for the two dozen residents of Peach Island.

On Saturday night the Shaggery River that flows under the bridge to Peach Island, on the west bank of the Motueka River, flooded and later, slip debris and forestry slash from the Shaggery catchment were swept down to the bridge,

The water could not get under the bridge and scoured away a huge gap in the road, cutting off the only access to and from the island. This morning contractors were scooping out about 250 cubic metres of debris from above and below the bridge. Fulton Hogan contract supervisor Ray Reardon said his crew would have the road onto the island open by the end of the day.

In the meantime, about 24 residents have been stuck on the island.

Kirsten Walker had gone to the Motueka Swim Club's awards and had to stay in Motueka on Sunday night. To get her home on Monday, her family borrowed a neighbour's canoe and she paddled across flooded paddocks.

This morning her mother, Vicky Walker, said the family had coped well with being cut off.

"I've just run out of milk but we don't feel isolated. The community here has been great. We meet at the bridge and catch up and the island spirit has been great. It's been good for the kids; they get to play in the water."

The Walkers have lived on Peach Island since 1998 and although the access road is flooded often, this was the first time the road had been washed out since then. Mrs Walker drives a school bus for Brooklyn School but for the past two days, the bus has been stuck on the island.

Justin Powell, whose family has been without water since floodwaters swamped their pump-house, said he was "desperately hoping" the road would be open today.

Sandra Young, who along with her sister Laura Young, owns land beside the bridge, said the flooding was second worst she had seen in 36 years, after the 1989 flood. She said she had heard "scary, horrible groaning" about 1.30am on Sunday that she thought was the bridge being moved by the logs.

Tasman District councillor Trevor Norris said the Shaggery's channel, which also serves as an overflow channel for the Motueka River, was not on the list of certified rivers that the council maintained. He said the washout was caused by slip debris and forestry slash from the Shaggery catchment. He had inspected the area and said he could see whole pine trees that had been washed down.

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- The Nelson Mail

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