Several homes at Foxton Beach had a narrow escape last night as a swollen Manawatū River and huge Tasman Sea tides threatened to send a mixture of sea and river water through their front doors.
Huge waves riding the high tide were blown up the river mouth by strong westerly squalls that clashed with raging floodwaters heading out to sea.
High tide arrived in darkness around 8.30pm. By the time it began to recede, just two homes reported flood damage, while the Manawatū Marine Boating Club near the wharf had also taken in water.
Foxton Beach fire chief Rodney Caldow said if the floodwaters had risen half a metre or more, it could have been a far different story.
"We planned for the worst while hoping for best," he said.
That included installing a preventative flood protection barrier across Hartley St and placing more than 500 sandbags in front of the lowest-lying properties.
The preventative flood barrier sock made of thick grey PVC blown up with water went some way to protecting properties along Hartley and Dawson Sts from further flood damage.
Caldow said the barrier was stored at the boat club and until now had only been used in annual practice drills.
The Moutua Floodgates, monitored by Horizons Regional Council, were opened around 10.30pm to ease pressure on the lower reaches of the Manawatū River.
Caldow said although the narrative suggested this kind of weather happens once every 50 or 100 years, it was the second time in the past six years that houses at the beach were threatened by flood.
Mayor of Horowhenua Bernie Wanden praised the efforts of those who put the barriers and sandbags in place.
"Our emergency services partners, contractors, lines people and council's Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) team have worked effectively and collaboratively over the past few days," he said.
Civil Defence Emergency Management continued to monitor the situation this morning, concerned that the 8.48am high tide at Foxton Beach could cause further flooding.
The river breached the boat ramp and flooded the car park at the Manawatū Marine Boating Club, although the water was not as high as 12 hours earlier.
Horowhenua CDEM Controller Lisa Slade said they hoped the worst was over.
"We still have a strong wind watch and heavy swell warning for the area, but it's promising to see that the heavy rain and severe thunderstorm warnings have now ended for our rohe," she said.
"Providing the weather calms down, we expect to move from an Emergency Management response to normal operations later today, while still monitoring for any weather-related effects."
The wild weather and high rainfall and wind in the past week had put pressure on HDC infrastructure, although the district's five water treatment plants were now back up and running.
Horizons Regional Council emergency management controller Ged Shirley said while river levels were decreasing across the region, the situation would continue to be monitored today.
"Most of our rivers have peaked and all rivers have been contained in their channels overnight. Our river management staff will be inspecting Horizons' flood protection assets once it's daylight to determine if there are any repairs or maintenance required," he said.
"Metservice has forecasted low intensity rain over the next 24 hours for most of the region, with some concentrated patches in the Tararua Ranges and lower Whanganui catchment.
"There is also a strong wind watch in place for the entire region, and a strong wind warning for the Tararua district.
"At this stage we are not anticipating any issues as a result of this rain, however our rivers are full and will respond relatively quickly to additional rain so we will continue to monitor today and tonight."
Shirley says a decision on the flood barriers at Foxton Beach and Kowhai Park in Whanganui will be made today.
"The storm surge impact didn't end up being much in both of these locations as the wind dropped during the night. However, we will wait until high tide passes before making the call to remove them.
"The Makino floodgates will cease operation this morning once river management staff have checked for debris, so Pharazyn Rd near Feilding will be open again."
He said as daylight arrives people can expect to see a fair amount of water around.
"In addition to full rivers and streams, there is likely to be surface flooding in places. Saturated soils combined with wind also means we may see landslips, erosion, fallen trees and debris.
"We encourage people to contact their city or district council if they have any concerns about trees or surface flooding on their properties and us if there are any river or erosion concerns."
Meanwhile, stormwater and wastewater pump stations are running as normal, although the Levin Wastewater Treatment plant continues to process a significant inflow of stormwater.
Power issues at Foxton Wastewater Treatment plant are being rectified by electricity contractor Electra.
A gas flare that extracts and dispels gas from the Levin Landfill had stopped working in high winds and was still offline.
Specialist contractors, gasfitters and Envirowaste staff were trying to fix it.
Paranui Rd near Foxton was closed because of trees blocking the road. Contractors were on site now clearing debris.