Storm cuts power, flooding

By John Cousins, Kiri Gillespie

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A large tree came down on Maunganui Rd.Photo/John Borren
A large tree came down on Maunganui Rd.Photo/John Borren

Greerton Park and lower Oropi were underwater early last night after the combination of heavy rain and high tide caused the Waimapu Stream to burst its banks.

Flood waters covered the park and spilled out onto the section of Oropi Rd between Glenlyon Ave and Maleme St, causing traffic to bank up as motorists hesitated about driving through water that was up to the bottom of car doors.

Water also covered Oropi Rd on the other side of SH29, between the roundabout and the Renner Park golf course. The water was so deep here that police closed the road. Surface flooding on SH29 also affected one of the lanes.

The swollen Waimapu River meant that drains in the area were unable to cope with the more than 24 hours of often heavy rain, resulting in stormwater spilling into one commercial premises in Glenlyon Ave by early last night.

And the flooding of the park could not have happened at a worse time for the Greerton Marist Rugby Club with the season in full swing.

Past flooding had put the park out of action for weeks.

The flooding in lower Oropi came at the end of a day of drama which included the Fire Service being called out to seven separate incidents in which winds removed roofs or parts of roofs around the Western Bay. Windows smashed and a boat broke its moorings.

The day also featured widespread power cuts, trees blocking roads, trampolines flying over houses, and a garden shed being blown off its foundations.

Metservice severe weather forecaster Leigh Matheson said the Western Bay of Plenty had borne the brunt of the storm, which had battered the North Island yesterday.

Wind gusts early yesterday morning were stronger than forecast, gusting up to 70km/h at the Port of Tauranga.

Athenree volunteer firefighters said wind gusts were even stronger at their end of the Bay, to the point where they were nearly blown off their feet.

Tauranga Airport recorded 117mm of rain over the past two days while 205mm was recorded in the Kaimai Range. "And there's more to come," Ms Matheson said.

A trough sitting just north of Tauranga late yesterday was likely to intensify the rain and lightning already predicted for the region.

Ms Matheson said heavy rain was expected to fall throughout last night and this morning before eventually easing this afternoon. However rain was not expected to stop until tomorrow.

The severe weather left thousands of Western Bay homeowners without power for most of yesterday as felled trees and lines created havoc.

Power was out to Paengaroa, Rangiuru, Te Matai, Te Puke, Te Puna, Whakamarama, Omokoroa, Papamoa, Oropi, Pyes Pa, Te Ranga, and Whangamata since early morning. By late afternoon half of these areas were still without power and, which was expected to be restored by 7pm.

Powerco said 30,000 homes in Tauranga, South Waikato and Coromandel experienced wide-spread power cuts but 20,000 of these properties had electricity back by 5pm yesterday.

Firefighters and contractors were sent to cut up trees blocking roads in Omanawa, Pukehina, Ohauiti, Pyes Pa and Tetley Rd.

Slips throughout the region also created trouble for motorists, with police closing the section of SH 29 at Poike after flood waters made the road "impassable".

The closure was issued about 4pm and expected to remain until well after high tide, which was due at 5.40pm.

Upper Ohauiti Rd was closed overnight from slips under the road. An Inroads spokeswoman said the slips had hollowed out underneath half a lane at one point and three-quarters of a lane in another spot.

New Zealand Transport Agency also issued an alert after a slip covered a lane on upper Pyes Pa Rd and a slip on Te Matai blocked access for staff and students going home from Te Ranga School. They detoured along Pyes Pa Rd.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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