Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Flood-stranded bride makes it to wedding thanks to last minute helicopter ride

Andrew Buchanan proposes to Penny Claridge. Photo / Sourced via Facebook
Andrew Buchanan proposes to Penny Claridge. Photo / Sourced via Facebook

Brides are supposed to make a dramatic entry to their wedding - and Penny Claridge certainly did just that after yesterday's deluge of rain threatened to play havoc with her wedding plans.

Claridge and her two sons were stuck at Kitenga Luxury Bed and Breakfast on North Road between Clevedon and Maraetai in south Auckland yesterday morning after torrential down pours on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Groom Andrew Buchanan, a helicopter pilot, told the Herald on Sunday that with North Road closed at both ends Claridge's arrival at their 4pm ceremony in nearby Ararimu looked uncertain.

"All the roads were closed in and out of there and being her wedding day we needed to get her out," Buchanan said.

"I fly helicopters so I just called a friend, Richard Stenning, and just got him to go and pick her up basically. It's pretty cool."

Stenning, who flys for Oceania Helicopters, collected Claridge and her boys, aged 11 and 12, from the Clevedon Hotel at 11am.

He dropped the trio at his hangar in Ramarama and Buchanan organised friends to pick up the bride-to-be in time for her to get ready for their big day.

The couple, who have been together three years, were planning a ceremony at their Paparimu property near the Hunua Ranges but the weather bomb forced a change of plans.

"We just can't because it's so wet out here so we've moved it into the [Ararimu Community] Hall."

Together with Buchanan's two sons, aged 8 and 9, the family were expecting 180 guests at their reception, including 40 children.

The pre-wedding drama came as residents around the Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and Waikato regions started a post-flooding clean-up after the second wild weather event in a week, which saw:

• Motorists stuck in flood water in both the Auckland and Northland regions,

• Hundreds of homes left without power in Auckland overnight Friday,

• Festival-goers in the Coromandel being evacuated from surging flood waters early Saturday,

• Homes flooded homes in Northland, Auckland, Clevedon, Te Awamutu, Huntly and Whangamata.

• The Auckland Cup event being post-poned due to a sodden Ellerslie Racecourse, and

• A month's worth of rain falling in some regions.

Penny Claridge whose wedding was nearly cancelled due to flooding. Photo / Supplied via Facebook
Penny Claridge whose wedding was nearly cancelled due to flooding. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

At Kawakawa Bay residents were still reeling from the month of rain that fell in one night on Tuesday.

Kawakawa Bay Kindergarten was almost totally destroyed in the first downpour mid-week after a tidal creek at the back of the building flooded, head teacher Lisa Carlin said.

The latest downpour further impacted on the massive clean-up job.

More than 500 children's books worth $3000, puzzles, pictures, and CDs have been ruined by the downpours and associated flooding, which has also water-logged furniture, damaged computers and up-ended outdoor equipment.

"We have to relocate the kindergarten and children to the community hall. It's going to take about three months to get it up and running again."

At nearby Hunua and Clevedon, homes and farms were flooded and farmers lost hundreds of lifestock to surging waters - as well as the torrents ruining fences and destroying silage bales.

In the Coromandel, hundreds of revellers at the Sundaise Festival had to be evacuated late on Friday night after flood waters threatened the venue near Waihi.

The Army helped evacuate festival-goers, some who had to brave water up to chest height to escape.

In the Auckland region, a seawall on Aramoana Ave in Devonport sustained damage and authorities laid sandbags on the shoreline to prevent more damage. Slips also occured on Waiheke Island, one which threatened a house.

And last night's session of the Auckland Arts Festival show Power Plant was cancelled due to concerns about the weather.

The MetService and Civil Defence last night warned there would be no respite today from the terrible weather, with high winds are set to batter the North Island today,.

Potentially damaging winds, gusting up to 120km/h, are expected to reach their worst in Auckland early afternoon, with risks of small tornadoes in coastal areas.

"High winds may bring trees and powerlines down," Auckland Civil Defence operations manager Aaron Davis said.

Severe weather warnings for wind were in place last night for Northland and the Coromandel as a low moved across the top of the country.

Another burst of heavy rain will hit the Bay of Plenty, where a further 50mm to 70mm was expected to accumulate. Nelson will also experience heavy rain on Sunday morning.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 May 2017 23:47:47 Processing Time: 950ms