A group of residents still cleaning up from two one-in-50 year floods that hit the Rissington area in March and last month are calling on the regional council to assist their efforts to prevent future devastation.

Mud and silt up to a metre high in some areas still coat the paddocks that border the Mangaone Stream, which burst its banks after heavy rain hit the region first on March 8 and then again on June 12.

The area around the Allisons' property is still covered in mud and silt with the height of the floodwaters evident from the debris on the fenceline.
The area around the Allisons' property is still covered in mud and silt with the height of the floodwaters evident from the debris on the fenceline.

Warren Allison is one of about five property owners living near where Rissington Bridge crosses the stream and said the flooding was the worst he had seen since he started living there in 1971.

"I've been here through Bola and all the big ones - the banks have always held, and we're trying to work out what happened here."

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He said it was between 7.30am and 8am on March 12 that the first floods struck.

"The kids had gone to school when it all hit - it came from the bridge and came sideways - within 20 minutes the water was waist-high - if it had happened at night someone could have died."

Allison said the family had only just finished cleaning up from the first flood when the second one came last month, undoing all their efforts.

Today, fencelines have almost disappeared under silt and debris. Only the top couple of wires poking above ground and large trees and branches are still lying across the river, raising fears the same scenario could happen again.

Bruce Broun lives next door to Allison and said the main reason why the stream burst its banks in the first flood was because trees that had fallen over into the stream caught debris that came down in the floodwaters, causing a dam that then released the water in a torrent.

"We can live with the odd bit of water but to have a second flood when the cause of the first one had not been rectified - that's a bit annoying," Broun said.

What needed to happen, the residents believed, was for the trees and debris to be removed from the stream, and for a stop bank to be installed, and they were hopeful the regional council might assist to do this.

Tree trunks and debris still lie in the stream prompting fears they could block the water channel in high rains, causing future devastation.
Tree trunks and debris still lie in the stream prompting fears they could block the water channel in high rains, causing future devastation.

"We have got to eliminate as many hazards as we can so we can live here safely," Allison said.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council acting group manager asset management Gary Clode said there was some very good riparian planting around this part of the stream, that helped improve water quality.

Cutting down those trees would not solve the flooding problem but removing fallen trees and those in the waterway would help to keep the main flow in the channel, and was something the residents could organise for themselves, he said.

"The council has agreed to provide some assistance to help with selective tree removal. This will begin when staff and machinery are available and conditions are suitable."

He noted the site was not in a flood protection scheme area and the council did not collect targeted rates for flood protection there.

If there was overall agreeement on the part of the residents, he said the council could provide advice and some assistance in developing a flood protection scheme, but the cost of this work and the ongoing maintenance would need to be borne by the residents.

"Until an investigation is carried out it is not a foregone conclusion that a stopbank will provide a solution. Occupying a floodplain is inherently risky."

Allison said while residents were still hopeful to get some form of regional council assistance they had received generous offers of help from others.

He said Hawke's Bay Contracting and McCutcheon Transport had offered to give them some hours to help build a stopbank, and he also acknowledged the efforts of Lisa Eagle, who led a working bee of volunteers to clean up the houses on the property, two of which were still uninhabitable.