Flood-hit resident rapt to be home
Richmond resident Maggie Cooper loves her Housing New Zealand house so much she insisted on camping in the driveway after it was made uninhabitable by flooding in April.
More than 100 millimetres of rain fell in 90 minutes in parts of Richmond when a weather bomb hit on April 20.
Ms Cooper, who lives in Bird St, was in her home at the time.
She said the carpets "came blowing up" off the floorboards as water rushed in from under the house.
The flood filled the house with about three quarters of a metre of water, driving Ms Cooper to the top of the kitchen table to avoid the rising tide.
She had just had a hernia operation so her mobility was restricted, but this did not prevent her from carrying an elderly neighbour to safety later in the evening.
"It was just horrific," she said.
Ms Cooper was determined to save a wheelbarrow she had borrowed from a neighbour.
"It came floating through and I grabbed hold of it and tied it to the table with the telephone wire. That was the only thing I could think to save."
After the water receded, none of the doors closed and everything below the waterline was ruined. The walls needed linings replaced up to the second joist, the kitchen was completely replaced and a new heat pump installed.
The kitchen fit-out included a new stove as the old one was ruined in the flood.
Ms Cooper spotted it floating on its side during the flood.
Housing NZ offered to relocate her after the flood, but she said she wanted to keep an eye on the property.
She chose to spend three months living in a "house bus" parked in the driveway instead.
Her neighbours Brian and Marie Taylor were living in Roto St, Annesbrook, when the flooding hit.
They moved into their two-bedroom house on Bird St at the end of July to find remnants of the April flooding still in evidence.
"When we came here it was a blimmin' mess, the whole section and everywhere else," said Mr Taylor.
Housing NZ southern regional manager Symon Leggott said the tenant who had lived in their house during the disaster was relocated to another Housing NZ property on Oxford St. The house was "dried out" and redecorated.
Mr Leggott said six houses on Bird St were badly affected by the floods, with the three worst needing a "whole of house makeover".
The others received new carpet, replacement gib boards where water had soaked into the walls, and a thorough drying.
"The most impressive thing in my view was that even though their own houses were affected, Housing New Zealand staff were down here wading through water and helping out," Mr Leggott said.
Nelson Marlborough West Coast area manager Dale Bradley said that after the torrential rain, his staff called every Richmond resident who lived in a Housing NZ property to check if they were OK.
"We found out pretty quick who had problems."
He said Bird St suffered because the water had run down the bottom of the Richmond Hills and pooled at the end of the street. Mr Bradley's home hadwater running through it.
"I left my wife to deal with that, which she still reminds me of."
Housing Minister Nick Smith said the six flood-affected houses were now better than they had been to start with.
"It's wonderful to come back [to a better situation] after being here in April with water over my gumboots and seeing families in such distress," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News