Storm causes deluge of insurance claims

FLORENCE KERR AND RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 08:59 13/06/2014
 The Waihou RiveR
STEVE EDWARDS/Fairfax NZ

BURSTING AT THE SEAMS: The Waihou River in Te Aroha was the highest it has been in years.

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Insurance companies are expecting more claims to roll in as a result of the wild weather that has lashed the region.

AA Insurance head of customer relations, Suzanne Wolton, said it was too early to estimate the cost of damage, but call volumes had increased "six-fold" as a result of the storm's destruction.

"The most common types of storm damage have been to roofs, windows, and fences. We've had trees falling through windows or onto fences and roofs. There has been flooding throughout homes, and tiles lifted or completely gone, leaving holes that have allowed water damage to ceilings."

The company had received 300 claims from the Waikato and Auckland regions yesterday.

Although the weather system is expected to move south today, its effects are still being felt.

Waikato Regional Council's flood response team will continue to monitor river levels.

Te Waihou River, near Te Aroha, swelled to levels that had not been seen in years, causing a flood risk for some Te Aroha properties in the southern end of Rewi St, Honi St, Herries St, and the southern end of Whitaker St.

Elsewhere in the region, tributaries feeding the lower Waikato River are also particularly swollen.

The heavy rain also proved potentially hazardous, with wastewater from the Hamilton's wastewater plant in Pukete overflowing into the Waikato River for one hour yesterday morning.

The Waikato Regional Council said "heavily diluted" wastewater overflowed intermittently into the river. The easing of the heavy rain meant there should be less pressure on the plant. Extra monitoring and testing would continue.

Residents living in Matatoki, south of Thames, were also having infrastructure issues because of the rain.

The filters treating the raw water supply to the reservoir were blocked as a result of heavy rain and silt in the Matatoki stream.

The Thames Coromandel District Council provided a tanker of potable water in Matatoki for residential use.

MetService scaled down its heavy-rain warning covering eastern Waikato and the Coromandel Peninsula yesterday afternoon.

The weather is expected to settle down heading into the weekend.

The Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group urged Coromandel Peninsula residents to take extra care on the roads.

Waikato Police were also busy dealing with surface flooding and crashes on the slippery roads.

Waikato roads were busy as motorists made their way to Fieldays and police were urging drivers to careful.

District road policing manager inspector Freda Grace said the call came after several close calls in Mystery Creek Rd where people had driven to the event, braving the wild weather, then walked from the car parking areas in dark clothing. Some pedestrians narrowly missed being hit, she said.

Police recommended people enter Fieldays wearing hi-visibility clothing, and that drivers allowed plenty of room to react to any mistake either on their part or by other road users.

Grace said people heading to and from the Fieldays needed to ensure they drove to the conditions and, if it was raining or traffic flows were heavy, they should slow down.

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MetService predicted between 120 millimetres and 180mm of rain would have fallen from Wednesday night to this morning.

The new rain band comes as waterways and soils are already saturated from heavy rain on the Coromandel over the past few days. One household in Te Aroha was evacuated yesterday as a result of flood risk.

The Thames Coromandel council said people in the Rewi St home went to stay with friends, while Matamata Piako District Council staff continued to monitor nearby properties.

State Highway 29 over the Kaimai Range was closed in both directions yesterday afternoon, because of a major slip, but it was expected to reopen later yesterday evening.

The weather is expected to settle heading into the weekend. "Over the last few days the South Island has seen some drier and brighter weather creeping northwards and, for the weekend that's moving on to the North Island," said MetService meteorologist John Law yesterday. florence.kerr@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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