Call to stop town flooding a fourth time

The Northland Regional Council is defending the decision to wait until later this year to start protection work on a flood-prone town.

Kaeo was severely flooded three times last year - on Waitangi Day, in late March and again in July - prompting locals to call for flood protection work.

The town suffered again on Friday and Saturday with landslips, downed power lines and closed roads following 200mm of rain, upsetting locals who thought the protection work should have started earlier.

But council chairman Mark Farnsworth said it had taken time to ensure money was available and for the job to be surveyed.

"A section of the work will require consent. However, over $300,000 of the work will be put out for contract as soon as possible; within days, weeks, as soon as possible," he said.

The district and regional councils and the Government will each contribute a third of the funding, Mr Farnsworth said.

However, he said the town would always be prone to flooding as it was built on a flood plain.

Residents say local councils have done nothing to clear rivers or fix stopbanks, and they live in dread every time heavy rain is forecast.

Far North Mayor Wayne Brown said the regional council had neglected its responsibility for flood prevention.

"They're spending money on buying land for railway lines instead of digging out the bottom of the Kaeo River where it enters the harbour," he said.

"For years road metal has ended up blocking the river down there which forces the flood back up into the town."

Also affected was Whangaroa, where contractors yesterday worked to clear slips blocking Old Hospital Rd that left about 25 households isolated.

At Paihia, storm surges undermined a footpath along the beachfront and part of a road, and took away chunks of a seawall.

Lines company Vector said electricity problems were at their worst at Te Hana, north of Wellsford, where 500 homes were blacked out.

The weather also caused issues in Auckland, where boats were washed off their moorings, trees blown down and a man had to be cut free from his car after it overturned on a slippery road in Titirangi.

MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said a number of regions were drenched at the weekend but drought-stricken areas received little relief.

Mr McDavitt said rain was likely again this weekend with another low-pressure system emerging from the subtropics.

- NZPA

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