Ex-tropical cyclone Gita causes landslips, destroys two homes near Kaikōura
A Canterbury man was lucky to escape with his life after gravel and floodwaters "completely wrecked" his home.
David McIlroy – who lives at Rosie Morn on State Highway 1 south of Kaikōura – said his house was destroyed when ex-tropical Cyclone Gita brought heavy rain and strong winds to much of the country on Tuesday.
"I was lucky to get out, but the house is completely ruined," he said on Wednesday.
McIlroy, who has lived in the house for 12 years, said it was the first time the nearby stream had flooded.
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Another house further south in Kie Kie had also been affected by the storm, which brought 287 millimetres of rain to the region.
McIlroy had been visiting friends at Goose Bay on Tuesday afternoon. When he returned home, he saw water "coming over the back and running down my drive".
The creek at the back of his house had filled with gravel and the 1.8-metre-high culvert under the road was completely blocked. Water was coming over the back of the stream and diverting to the north side of his house.
McIlroy went back to get his neighbours, but could stay at his home because of the volume of water coming down the driveway.
"There wasn't much we could do. We got a wee bit out of the house, some of the important things," he said.
The stream had turned into a raging torrent by nightfall.
"The house was completely wrecked . . . the garage had gone, everything had flooded out.
"The washing machine is either under the house or floated out [to sea], but that will be buggered now.
"The gravel built up to the bay windows at the back, which was probably 5m high, and then it broke a window and water got in. The dining room area collapsed into the basement because the water had built up."
McIlroy returned to his home on Wednesday morning and found shingle piled 4m high at the back of the building.
"You could step off the shingle and walk onto the roof. There was . . . gravel all the way through the house.
"There was only three feet to crawl through to get any pictures out I wanted and that was it."
Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray said there had been other slips in the Hundalee Hills area and culverts had been displaced further south. Road workers were assessing the damage on SH1 north and south of Kaikōura.
McIlroy said there had been a lot of damage, some in areas recently repaired following the November 2016 earthquake.
"There's new slips, there's old slips, there's a lot of work for them to do again.
"They are back to square one."
Friend Julie Don said McIlroy's property looked like a big heap of gravel with a house inside it.
"His whole life is gone. It's unbelievable."
The other house destroyed in Tuesday's storm, at Kie Kie, looked much the same, she said. The house was still there, but water and shingle had gone through it and was "about halfway up the windows so when you look out it is like looking into a fish tank".
"It's horrendous," she said.