Deluge causes highway closure

By Annemarie Quill

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Wet weather hammered the Western Bay yesterday and caused flooding in Katikati.

MetService meteorologist Peter Little said downpours from 11pm Thursday to 6am yesterday brought about 44mm of rainfall around Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

The heavy rainfall higher up in the ranges could have caused flooding to areas such as low land Katikati, he said.

A 100m stretch of road north of Katikati near the Uretera Stream flooded early yesterday morning.

The New Zealand Transport Authority, with the help of local emergency services, guided traffic through the area before closing the road completely to clear a south-bound truck which was pushed off the side of the road.

The truck had been pushed off the road by surface water after a larger truck heading north tried to cross the flood waters at the same time.

NZTA communications manager Natalie Dixon said the highway was closed from about 9am to 10am for the truck salvage.

There were concerns high tide could make the retrieval difficult and it was possible the road closure would take longer but the road was opened shortly before 10am with the floodwaters receding.

Katch Katikati promotions manager Jacqui Knight drove to work at about 8am through the flood waters.

"It was down to one way traffic and the truck was still on the side of the road with the emergency service guiding people through the water," she said.

Mrs Knight said the water would have risen about halfway up the wheels of her station wagon.

"It is always a little bit nerve-racking when you are driving through water that is flowing quite quickly, you think 'I hope I don't stall' but it is always reassuring when you have the emergency services there to pull you out if need be.

"It was single lane but everybody was driving through with no problem."

There was some force in the water flowing over the road at the time, she said.

The Waihi Beach resident said it was definitely not the worst flood waters she had seen since living in the area for about six years.

Sergeant Tristan Murray said because Katikati was sited on the Uretera Stream tidal inlet there were concerns that surface flooding could be worse with hightide mid morning .

There were also reports of a small creek 100m east of Hot Springs Rd bursting its banks as well, which meant Katikati would be cut off at both ends.

This weekend the wet weather would clear.

Today and Sunday would be fine with a high of 15C and lows of 5C overnight.

There would be a chance of gusty winds in the mornings.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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