Flood traps family at home

By Mike Dinsdale, Mike Barrington

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Jessica Walsh and her family were trapped at home when floodwaters closed Mangakahia Rd yesterday.
Jessica Walsh and her family were trapped at home when floodwaters closed Mangakahia Rd yesterday.

Mangakahia Valley resident Jessica Welsh hopes her family will finally be able to reconnect with the rest of the world today after their home was surrounded by a raging torrent brought on by heavy rain in the hills above their property.

Ms Welsh lives in Drinnan Rd with husband Levi and daughters Tia, 3 and Sayde, 1. Yesterday the family were forced to stay home because they were cut off by the swollen river which flooded paddocks.

The Tutamoe Ranges, above the Welsh home, got 179.5mm of rain in 48 hours, including 134mm in the 24 hours to 8am yesterday.

"It was already a bit flooded, then about 10pm [Wednesday] it really started to bucket down. We woke [yesterday] and the water had come right up to surround the house. I got Levi to go and drive to see if I could make it to my course, but he came back a few minutes later saying we were stuck here," Ms Welsh said.

The house is high off the ground so there was no danger of the home flooding, but Tia was left wondering why there was a beach outside and why the river had moved.

"I'm glad we still have power though. I missed work, but was able to finish my assignment so I'm relieved about that, but we're still surrounded [at 5pm yesterday] and I'm hoping we will be able to get out tomorrow ... or definitely by Saturday please."

The family had plenty of supplies but might go stir crazy if they can't get out tomorrow.

"It's still a bit of a torrent outside, but hopefully it will start to go down."

Heavy rain on Tuesday, Wednesday and overnight in the Brynderwyns, Tutamoe Ranges and North Hokianga caused flooding which closed roads early yesterday, but resulted in no major damage. High winds had more public impact, leading to power cuts lasting from 30 minutes to six hours for a total of 1500 people on Tuesday night in areas including Maungakaramea, Jordan Valley, Oruawharo, Ararua, Paparoa, Whatatiri, Ruawai and Kamo.

A similar number had power blackouts for up to six hours on Wednesday at Titoki, Kaiatea, Kirikopuni and Whatoro.

At the Opouteke weather station, about 60km northwest of Whangarei, 138mm was recorded in the 48 hours - 91mm on Wednesday and overnight. At Twin Bridges on the Mangakahia River about 7km north of Opouteke, 67.5mm was recorded over the 48 hours to 8am yesterday .

The heavy rain in the ranges was enough to bring the river across Mangakahia Rd just south of Pakotai early yesterday, and the road was still closed late yesterday afternoon.

The northern side of the Brynderwyn hills got 110.5mm of rain in the 48 hours to 8am yesterday, with flooding of Cotton Rd at Mata and Schultz Rd south of Waipu.

At Rotokakahi in North Hokianga 109.5mm fell in the 48 hours to 8am yesterday - 91mm on Wednesday and overnight.

Meanwhile, in the Far North just under 3000 households spent at least part of Wednesday night without power.

Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said the storm caused eight faults on the high voltage network, mainly on the west coast. The majority were caused by trees falling onto power lines.

Most customers had their power back by midnight with 50 having to wait until yesterday morning. Affected areas included Mangamuka, Panguru, South Hokianga and Pakaraka.

- Northern Advocate

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