Flash floods hit Waihi Beach

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 09:32 05/07/2012

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Wendy McAlpine and her two children were carried to safety on firemen's shoulders as a flash flood hit their home, now they are joining others in sweeping up the mess in their Waihi Beach street.

Another seven pensioners were evacuated to the camping ground in the Tuesday night downpour which struck at about 6pm.

Residents and holiday home owners were picking through the debris of the flood damaged homes when the Times visited yesterday, describing the deluge as the ''worst ever'' and ''exceptional''.

And many residents said the Western Bay of Plenty District Council needed to address the drainage issue.

Perhaps the worst hit property was on Hillview Road.

Residents in the front house, Wendy McAlpine and her two children, started to get worried at 8pm.

''We had flooding in April last year but it only came up to the second step,'' she said.

''So last night I thought it wasn't going to come any further and wasn't too worried.'' But the water came and came.

''I was starting to freak out a bit.'' She rang 111 and they said: ''Is it in your house?'' She replied: ''No, but it will be soon''.

They said: ''We can't do anything until it's in your house.'' Soon, Ms McAlpine rang again: ''It's in my house!'' A high tide, storm surge, heavy rain and hail all contributed to raising the water level about 20cm above the McAlpine's floor level.

The entire 15-man Waihi Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade dealt with the weather induced chaos till about 1am dealing with leaking light fittings, evacuations and flooded basements.

Rescuing the McAlpines was the highest drama of the night, Firefighter Adam Knight said.

''They were a bit distraught obviously with all the damage to their house.

''They had no way out of their house short of swimming and the water was freezing. There was no way out. We looked at getting a boat to get them but in the end it was easier to put them on our shoulders and walk out.'' Ms McAlpine's landlord, who didn't to be named, had heard about the flood and rushed over from Hamilton with her sister and mother.

When she walked passed the McAlpine rental to her modern holiday home built in 2008, her heart sank.

Debris covered the front deck and flood water had penetrated the entire lower floor to just above the skirting board.

''I was gutted,'' she said.

''I did know there was a bit of silt but I didn't know there was all of this.'' She said they knew it was a flood zone but they built to combat the problem.

Over the last 12 years they'd never seen flooding like it.

But she was insured, and looking on the bright side.

''People have been through worse,'' she said.

''All I can say is, I'm glad I'm not in Christchurch and we're alive.'' 

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