A local state of emergency has been declared and some schools will be closed today (Tuesday) in Napier after wild weather battered the city, sparking evacuations, landslides and power cuts.
There has been widespread flooding, slips and evacuations after 100mm of rain fell between 12pm and 8pm last night.
Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise declared a state of emergency just before 10pm and urged residents to shelter at home and avoid driving where possible.
"If you feel unsafe at home, self-evacuate to family and friends first," she shared on the city's Emergency Defence website.
"If you have no other options, evacuate to Kennedy Park at 11 Storkey St, Marewa."
Anyone in danger should call 111.
Some schools to close on Tuesday
At least four schools in Tamatea will be closed today - Tamatea Primary, Porritt Primary, Tamatea Intermediate, Tamatea High and Fairhaven.
Widespread downpours have affected more than 90 homes, with dozens of people, including elderly residents, being rescued from flooded houses.
The council was forced to discharge wastewater in the sodden region, prompting warnings that contaminated floodwaters could make residents sick.
Recordings from Napier Airport show more than 110mm of rain fell in the city between midnight on Sunday and 8pm yesterday - 100mm of which fell between 12pm and 8pm.
Elderly woman rescued from flooded home
Firefighters rescued a 75-year-old woman trapped in her flooded home as torrential rain wreaked havoc in Napier.
Police confirmed officers and Fire and Emergency were at the home in Lighthouse Rd, Bluff Hill.
Firefighters elsewhere have rescued elderly residents trapped in their homes and taken them to the safer houses of family in the area, a Fire and Emergency spokeswoman said.
Panicked residents have called emergency services saying water was seeping underneath their front doors and into their homes, she said.
"We've had reports of flooding and leaking roofs, mostly in the Napier CBD," she said.
"Hawkes Bay's Urban Search and Rescue team is assessing a number of landslips on Napier Hill caused by the heavy rain."
Hawke's Bay Emergency Management controller Ian Macdonald said last night more than a dozen people had been evacuated.
People were being rescued and evacuated on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Cars were stranded in flooded waters and residents were urged to stay inside as roads in the city were no longer driveable.
"At one stage crews were responding to 150 calls for help in the city, mostly flooding and some leaky roofs and there were some gas leaks reported," the Fire and Emergency spokeswoman said.
"We're advising people to stay at home and keep dry. Stay inside your house."
Residents needing urgent help should call 111 - instead of the overwhelmed local Hawke's Bay Fire brigade, the spokeswoman urged.
The local Civil Defence branch warned residents against rubbernecking, saying it caused further headaches for emergency services.
"Driving through floodwater creates bow waves, which drive water into homes," the agency shared online.
Fourteen crews from the city and region were kept busy responding to calls from stranded residents.
Power outages have hit much of the city, as Unison confirms almost 3000 customers have been left in the dark tonight.
A large landslide was also reported near Havelock Rd, on nearby Hospital Hill.
Much of the town's CBD was under water after persistent.
A Napier City Council spokeswoman urged the public to only flush their toilet when necessary, and hold off using showers, dishwashers and washing machines to prevent stormwater overflowing.
Lashing rain in the city caused manhole covers to lift, forcing the council to discharge wastewater into the Purimu stormwater stream, which flows out to sea through the Ahuriri Estuary, shortly before 6pm.
Medical Officer of Health Nick Jones said floodwaters could carry bugs that cause disease from the ground surface and sewerage systems.
"Children should be kept away from flood waters and from playing in puddles, which may have been contaminated by sewage," he said.
Residents should not eat any food that had been in contact with flood waters, Jones warned.
Heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and even hail is forecast to stay across the region until mid-week, with up to 130mm of rain expected to fall in some areas of Hawke's Bay.
By mid-afternoon yesterday, surface flooding was evident at several roads and highways in the region.
A Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency - Hawke's Bay and Gisborne spokeswoman encouraged drivers to switch on headlights, slow down, increase following distances and drive to the weather conditions in order to be prepared for unexpected hazards.
MetService meteorologist Rob Kerr said the broad low-pressure system currently over the North Island is expected to linger until it's pushed eastwards by a ridge of high pressure.
"From now through to later on Wednesday, parts of the North Island will see heavy rain or showers, with thunderstorms and hail possible, while strong or gale south to southeast winds affect the lower North Island," he said.
Kerr said the main area of concern is the ranges of Hawke's Bay and southern Gisborne.
A heavy rain warning is in place for those areas, with 100mm to 130mm of rain expected to accumulate about the ranges from Te Haroto southwards, with 70 to 100mm elsewhere.
Peak intensities were expected from this afternoon when hourly rates could reach 25 to 40mm an hour in thunderstorms.
"This is a large amount of rain in a short period and isolated downpours could see totals exceed that range," Kerr added.
Macdonald of Civil Defence warned that heavy rain can cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly, with surface flooding and slips also possible. Driving conditions may be hazardous.
"It's always good for anyone driving to take extra care on days like this and keep an eye on the weather forecast," he said.
"As little as 30cm of water can cause people to lose control of their vehicles, so the usual cautions apply: Slow down, drive to the conditions and stay safe."
The northbound lane of State Highway 2, near Tangoio, was blocked after a logging truck slid into a roadside ditch.
Emergency services were called to the crash about 8.09am, but nobody was injured.
Surface flooding also caused the Mohaka Township Rd, Mohaka, to be closed at the Nakis Rd intersection this afternoon.
NCC said Kennedy Rd, at the intersection of SH2 and Downing Ave, was also closed from 4pm due to severe flooding.
Eastern District Police said surface flooding was causing multiple issues with vehicles "breaking down" when driving through floodwater.
The police requested the public keep vehicle traffic to a minimum until the flooding eases.
A Fire and Emergency spokesman said a tree had fallen on to a caravan in Bluff Hill, Napier, due to the weather at 2.32pm.
Kerr said a "further burst of heavy rain" may be expected in Hawke's Bay on Wednesday before the low pulls away.
Hastings District Council and Central Hawke's Bay District Council said they had not experienced any weather-related issues.
Waka Kotahi NZTA warned motorists to take extra care as surface flooding pooled over now impassable roads in the region.
"There is significant flooding on Taradale Rd, so take extra care in this area," the agency tweeted.
Some manhole lids had been lifted on roads in the city - but motorists likely wouldn't be able to spot that through the downpour and surface flooding.