Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Army called out to help clear flooded Sundaise Festival

The army has been called to the flooded Sundaise Festival to help clear the site of the washed out festival.

About 200 festival goers in Waikino-Dickey Flat, Waihi, had to be rescued last night after the venue and nearby camping areas were flooded out.

Around 1000 people were at the festival which started yesterday and was due to run across the weekend.

The remaining 800 have also decamped and the event has been cancelled.

A car underwater as flooding worsened last night. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN
A car underwater as flooding worsened last night. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN

Mount Maunganui mother Kristine Cook was evacuated with her 4-year-old daughter after watching her car get washed away by the river.

"Water was up to my knees. My car is gone - the motor does not work anymore so I had it towed out and will try to get it towed home tomorrow," she said.

"My daughter got carried in her undies with a towel around her up to a hay barn, we ended up sleeping there."

As the deluge fell last night a member of the organising crew stood on stage and warned festival goers to check their tent as the river level was getting dangerously high.

Water started rushing through the main stage area at around midnight.

Stalls at the festival in calf-high water as the river started rising last night. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN
Stalls at the festival in calf-high water as the river started rising last night. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN

The 28 house trucks of the Gypsy Extravaganza Fair and Market at the festival got hit hard by the flooding.

House trucker Tom James said one of his trucks was salvageable but another "got pretty hammered."

"It is buggered, everything is pretty wet inside."

He said water flooded straight through the truck and got as high as the tops of the truck's wheels.

Reaction on social media has been two-fold. People were commenting they were thankful everyone was safe but were questioning why the festival went ahead given the severe weather warning and recent flooding issues.

Organisers of Sundaise Festival have not been available for comment.

Post on the Sundaise Facebook page this morning.
Post on the Sundaise Facebook page this morning.

Hauraki District Council spokesperson Paula Trubshaw said around 40 of the 200 evacuees being cared for by Hauraki Civil Defence staff at the Waihi Salvation Army Hall have now been picked up.

The remainder of evacuees have gone home or to family and friends.

Nearby in Whiritoa, flooding on Mako Avenue has been worsened by sightseers driving past in cars, causing water to flush onto properties. People have been asked to avoid the area to prevent causing more water damage.

Just after midnight emergency services were called when festival goers became stuck and campsites were flooded, police said.

A messy scene was left at the Sundaise festival grounds near Waihi, following extreme flooding overnight. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN
A messy scene was left at the Sundaise festival grounds near Waihi, following extreme flooding overnight. PHOTO/MELANIE CAMOIN

Around 800 people had been expected to stay in campsites near the festival however these people had to be accommodated when the area was flooded.

Many campers were taken in by local residents and housed in farm buildings and the Whatawhata Hall was opened up to provide shelter and people were taken to the Salvation Army in Waihi.

Buses were also organised by the Thames Coromandel District Council and Hauraki District Council to evacuate people.

Everyone was evacuated from the scene safely thanks to a good co-ordinated response from emergency services, council staff and festival staff.

Police and local authorities will be speaking with festival organisers this morning to discuss if it is safe for the festival to continue.

- NZ Herald

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