When Glandre van den Berg prepared to go to bed late on Saturday night, she didn’t anticipate that moments later she’d be running after a “freaking out” cow that had become swept up in floodwaters before hoofing it through Te Puke town.
It was just after midnight when Van den Berg and her husband headed to bed and heard a loud crashing from outside.
“We tried to find where the sound came from. That’s when we realised Donovan Park was underwater. There was water as far as the eye could see, so I bolted out to the road, to Raymond Ave, because there’s a stream that comes through there,” she said.
“It was like something out of a movie. There was just all of this water bursting out from the bridge. It had such a force, the whole ground was actually shaking.”
Van den Berg said there was a farmer on the Raymond Ave bridge who told her he was trying to get his sheep to higher ground.
“He was freaking out because his paddock was filling up really fast. All of a sudden, this cow goes by. I locked eyes with it, it mooed, and I just started crying.”
Van den Berg described herself as an animal lover, and she regularly feeds stray cats to ensure they’re looked after. She admitted she typically dives into situations to help animals before thinking of her own safety.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, do I jump in after it? What do I do?’
“At that time, my husband called me and said, ‘You will not believe this, but there are three cows behind our fence’. I said, ‘I do believe it because a cow just came past in the stream’.
“The next moment, this cow managed to get out of the water and started running down the street,” van den Berg said.
“I thought, ‘This is a nightmare’, and I ran after the cow. I thought, ‘We can’t have this cow running the street’. There were cars and stuff. A man asked me if [it] was my cow, and I said, ‘No, but I’m trying to keep it safe’. It went down towards Jellicoe St, which is the main street, and I absolutely freaked out. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, someone is going to crash into this cow and we’ll have a massive problem.”
Van den Berg kept chasing the cow. She also called the police.
“So, I’m on the phone with the police trying to explain what’s going on, while catching my breath, and also trying to chase this cow,” she said.
“This cow was freaking out. It went to the hunting shop for a bit and was still freaking out. Next thing, it just bolted, went past McDonalds - and I’m still chasing - and it got to KFC and turned left and stopped. I thought, ‘Yep, you’ll be safe there. It’s KFC, you’ll be fine’.
Soaked and utterly exhausted, van den Berg walked home.
When she woke the next day, she asked on a community Facebook page if anyone knew what had become of the cow and learned that it ended up at the Te Puke BP station, at the other end of town. Someone led it to a nearby paddock, where it stayed until it was collected by its owner.
“It went right through Te Puke town,” van den Berg said.
“This poor cow really went on a big journey.”
The cow belonged to a herd of 10 that floated down the Ohineangaanga Stream from a gully between Princess St and Dunlop Rd on Saturday night.
Three of the cows managed to get home, another three made it to a dairy farm on Washer Rd, three remained at a paddock by van den Berg’s home and the KFC cow - now named ‘Chicken Wing’ - made its way to the Cannell Farm Drive before being put in a nearby paddock. All 10 are alive and well.
Van den Berg said she was glad to hear there were minimal animal casualties despite the floods.
“I was really worried about the animals out there. All of that water, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It was devastating.”
Cow owner Maya Sutter said she was thankful after “an extremely stressful day getting horses, goats, and chickens to safety”.
Sutter said a truck has been arranged to pick the cows up tomorrow and reunite them at a family friend’s farm.
She said the cow that ended up at KFC didn’t originally have a name, “but we may as well name it Chicken Wing now”.