Driver flees as water fills car

NEIL RATLEY AND NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013
Stranded
NOKOMAI HELICOPTERS

SWAMPED: A car is stranded in floodwaters on Nokomai Rd about noon yesterday.

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It was a lucky escape for a former Invercargill woman when her car was stranded in rising floodwaters near Nokomai Station.

Lisa Eady, now of Christchurch, said she escaped through the open window as water began coming into her car on Thursday morning.

Ms Eady contacted The Southland Times yesterday and said the stricken car in the spectacular photograph on the newspaper's front-page yesterday was hers.

She had been staying at a family-owned crib on Nokomai Station when the rain started falling on Wednesday night.

"The rain came down really hard during the night but I needed to get out to get back to Christchurch," she said.

Familiar with the Nokomai Rd she thought the water level was low enough to make a run for it in her four-wheel-drive car.

However, the car hit a deeper section of water and died, she said.

"Luckily I had the electric windows down before the car died and I managed to climb out with what I could grab," she said.

Ms Eady said she waded to dry ground before returning to her crib and contacting her insurance company.

The car was towed out yesterday morning when water levels dropped but Ms Eady said she was not confident it would be on the road anytime soon.

"There was a lot of silt in the car and when the tow truck lifted it, a lot of water poured out of the exhaust," she said.

Nokomai owner James Hore, who took the front page photograph, said the flood had also caused problems on his station, with damaged fences and lost crops but rain and floods were something farmers just had to deal with.

There was one positive that came out of the flooding, Mr Hore said. "You can't get to the mail box so the bills have to wait a while."

Several Southland roads remained closed last night and motorists were urged to take care.

A shortage of signs meant not all roads affected were signposted.

A list of road closures was available on the council's website.

The Mataura River burst its banks in Gore yesterday morning with water levels peaking both earlier and higher than expected.

Environment Southland on-duty flood officer Warren McNamara said the river peaked in Gore at 2.20am, almost seven hours earlier than predicted.

It hovered around 2.5 metres higher than normal, but by lunchtime had started to fall, he said.

Gore District Council roading manager Murray Hassler said road clean-ups had started around Gore yesterday but some roads remained closed.

Meridian Energy spokeswoman Michelle Brooker said Lake Te Anau had not risen since 10am yesterday. The lake control gates remained open.

Southern District Council manager of services and assets Ian Marshall said the damage across the region was not intense but had caused some problems, including sewage treatment, water treatment and roading problems.

neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

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