Waitotara residents coming back to silt covered town
In the pitch black of night Tiffany Parkes answered an urgent 3am call from her neighbours to help evacuate 30 greyhounds trapped in their kennels by floodwaters.
The water came up really quickly, said Parkes who lives on Parekama Rd, in Waitotara, where the river bursts its banks and residents were evacuated late last night.
The greygounds are now safe on horse floats, trailers and in kennels.
Parkes lives on a hill so her house wasn't fllooded, but is surrounded by water and though the waters were going down quite quickly, thinks it will be a few days before she can get out.
* Hundreds flee rising floodwaters in North Island
* Flooding in North Island, SH1 closed
* West Coast flood clean-up continues
* Residents trapped in their homes
* All Taranaki club sport cancelled
She went shopping on Friday, so has food to last a week, she said, but no power and because she can't see her cattle and sheep she assumes they are all dead.
The Waitotara Bridge is still closed after heavy rain on Saturday saw the river rise rapidly and burst its banks late last night. Waitotara suffered much of the worst damage from the widespread flooding around Taranaki and the lower North Island.
Waitotara resident James Takarangi spent Saturday night in his car.
He was evacuated from his home at 10.30pm and headed for Waverley, but the accommodation filled up quickly and with all of the beds taken he ended up in his car.
He returned to Waitotara on Sunday morning to find the front of his house covered in mud.
It will take a couple of days to clean up and the whole town will pitch in, he said.
"That's what we do. You just get on with it."
Takarangi said it wasn't as bad as previous floods, but was still heartbreaking.
Despite the flooding, he had no intention of leaving the village.
"I love the place."
Heavy downpours caused widespread flooding throughout the lower North Island on Saturday and Sunday night. A state of emergancy was declared by Civil Defence in Taranaki, Whanganui and Rangitikei.
The rain caused havoc on State High 3, north and south, with slips leading to closures north of both Patea and Waitara on Saturday. SH43 between Stratford and Taumaranui closed early Saturday afternoon. The road between Patea and Hawera is open again but reduced to one lane,a s is SH3 north.
NZ Transport Agency spokesman Mark Owen said contractors were working flat-out throughout the highway network to clear roads and respond to hazards.
A Civil Defence Welfare Centre was opened in Waverley for people who wished to self-evacuate the Waitotara township overnight as a precaution against the river flooding the town. The Valley Rd is closed and some farmland is flooded.
The wild weather saw floodwaters inundate parts of Waitara, Tikorangi, Patea, New Plymouth and Kaimata and cause widespread rural road closures and sewerage system failures around the province.
On Saturday New Plymouth Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management advised people to stay out of central city for the next 24 hours, following sewage overflows there, and to stay away from beaches, rivers and streams for the next three days. New Plymouth's CBD is now open.
Powerco has reported 360 properties in Whakamara, in South Taranaki, lost power at 11pm Friday night and a slip on the Tangahoe Valley Rd had prevented them from making repairs.
In eastern Taranaki more than 400 properties at Strathmore werewithout power overnight. Slips also blocked access to the problem areas and it was the same story in North Taranaki, near Uruti, where 45 properties are cut off.
Some of the heaviest rain of the weather system causing chaos throughout the North Island hit Everett Park near Inglewood, where 99 millimetres fell within four hours this morning.
Photos posted on Facebook on Saturday showed floodwaters in Waitara inundating Makere St and the homes on it.
Other photos showed the Waiau stream had burst its banks and was flowing across the intersection of Tikorangi Rd East and Otaraoa Rd near Tikorangi.
Waitara man Garry Topping lives on Clifton Drive and said the creek in his back yard was up to chest height on Saturday.
"It was up to my armpits. Everything was starting to float. I'd take you there but there's no point, you won't get near it now."
He said the flooding wasn't as bad as the 1964 flood but said there was potential for the Waitara river to get higher once the flow from Uruiti made it down, which he said usually takes about 11 hours.
"It's going to get higher, absolutely. The only question is how high and that depends on what kind of rainfall they've had."
Civil Defence reported some surface flooding in Waitara but the river had stayed well within the stopbanks so far. However it confirmed levels were expected to rise later on Saturday.
In New Plymouth a foul sewage odour hung over the central city for much of the day. The Centre City shopping centre closed at 1pm and other businesses were advised by Civil Defence to do the same.
The Landing Cafe co-owner Jemma Fitzwater said she was frustrated by a lack of information from authorities.
"I thought we would of been told about any health hazard, especially with water.
"We had to ring up to find out about it."
A few doors down it was business as usual for The Good Home pub.
Manager Jamie Stones said they were keeping the doors open, but had an eye on the toilet system.
"We have been checking our toilets every half an hour, making sure there are no issues.
"But at this stage we are fine. Fingers crossed it stays like this."
Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Controller David Lean said raw sewage was being discharged to the sea from the Eliot St outfall in New Plymouth, from the Waitara outfall and being discharged to the Mangati Stream at Bell Block
"The public are advised to keep away from central New Plymouth, including Centre City, because of sewage contamination of floodwater," he said.
The torrential rain cut a gaping hole in the main route out of Hawera, reducing it to one lane.
Hawera police sergeant Andrew Russ said a slip underneath a section of State Highway 3, south of Hawera, had undermined the road and carved out a "significant" washout.
Russ said it was unlikely to be repaired quickly.
- Taranaki Daily News