Motorists were trapped, farms flooded, roads and schools closed as a rain-laden front swamped Waikato yesterday, pushing the region's waterways to bursting point.
Today, the clean-up starts. And as the water recedes the cost to authorities will become clear.
Emergency services were yesterday flat out dealing with fallen trees, traffic control and crashes in the slippery road conditions.
The rain was expected to ease this morning but the Piako, Waihou and Waitoa rivers are likely to remain swollen over coming days and drivers are urged to show caution.
Up to 260 millimetres of rain fell on the Coromandel between midnight Sunday and 3pm yesterday.
Metservice spokesman Dan Corbett said the rain would stick around overnight but ease to showers today while the heavy downpours move to the east coast around Gisborne.
The offending low lumbered out of the north Tasman and whipped a northeasterly across the Waikato. It came laced with moisture from the sub-tropics, delivering a surge of rain Sunday night into yesterday followed by another one in the afternoon and evening.
Northern fire communications spokesman Jaron Phillips said the fire service was busy all day dealing with crashes and flood-related callouts.
In Kihikihi, a car smashed into a powerpole in wet, slippery conditions at 9.10am bringing down powerlines.
In Thames, a vehicle came unstuck on the Kopu Bridge just after midday and a short time later a car rolled on SH26 at Motumaoho.
A car was also trapped when floodwaters breached road level on SH2 through the Karangahake Gorge around the time it was closed.
Mr Phillips said water was over the road in a number of places to a depth of up to one metre when the rescue was made.
Waikino Tavern publican Naomi Greener said she hadn't seen flooding that bad since 2005 and was hopeful it wouldn't get as bad as the floods of 1981 when the building was breached and others washed away.
Her 6-year-old son had packed all his toys just in case the family had to evacuate. And Ms Greener was preparing to sandbag if the river kept rising with the tide.
"When they were about to close the road we had a couple of four-wheel-drives that pushed through. That said, there were people stranded in the gorge. We rang up and they sent a fire truck through to guide them out."
Western Bay of Plenty District Council had up to 12 staff at Waihi Beach monitoring the situation after damaging floods and evacuations struck the town on July 4.
Flooding was expected in low-lying areas at Hillview Rd, Leo St and the Beachhaven Holiday Park.
"The team will be there monitoring all night," he said. "We've got 10 service crew staff in the field and two supervisory staff solely because of the intensity of the situation and rain. And we've got extra guys on call if they need to go up. Hopefully [the rain] won't increase - if we can get past 10pm high tide we should be alright."
Farmers were advised to move stock to higher ground as the heavy rain persisted throughout yesterday.
Waikato Federated Farmers president James Houghton said working in the bitter conditions was "bloody miserable".
"We had a few miserable sick calves that came in the morning that needed a bit of TLC during the day.
"Most farmers are kicking off calving and hopefully there aren't too many lambs around at this stage."
In Paeroa, the Criterion Bridge was closed for the first time in five years leaving residents such as Rose Donovan cut off.
"We don't plan for this type of thing," she said.
"I hope my cat's OK. We hope the flooding hasn't got inside the house."
River levels in parts of the Waikato are expected to remain high for several days.
Waikato Regional Council stopbanks were in place to prevent flooding in local communities and these will be closely monitored.
Further west, the recent rain is expected to prolong flooding of the Waikato and Waipa rivers.
AROUND THE REGION:
Karangahake Gorge on State Highway 2 between Waihi and Paeroa: Closed
Athenree Gorge: Closed due to slip
The Uratara Bridge, north of Katikati on SH2: Down to one lane
State Highway 26 at the Criterion Bridge, Paeroa: Closed
The Tairua River at Hikuai on State Highway 25: Monitored
Waihou River on State Highway 2 north of Paeroa: Monitored
Old Maratoto Rd and Wires Rd: Impassable
Tapu-Coroglen Rd: Down to one lane
Wentworth Valley Road: Closed
- © Fairfax NZ News
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