The rain is slowly easing in Rotorua this morning as residents begin cleaning up after some of the worst flooding seen in decades.

A state of emergency remains in place for the suburb of Ngongotaha, 10km northwest of Rotorua, where floodwaters ripped through homes, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate.

The Ministry of Education warns some schools and early learning centres in the Bay of Plenty and South Canterbury are likely to be closed today due to flooding.

Ngongotaha Primary School is closed, and all classes at Te Wananga o Aotearoa Rotorua's Waiwhero site have been cancelled.

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Parents and students are advised to contact their school/kura for more information.

MetService lead meteorologist Mark Todd said the heavy rain was over for the Bay of Plenty.

"The worst of the heavy rain is definitely over. There are still some showers around, but these will be nothing like what happened during the weekend."

During the 12 hours to 4am parts of Bay of Plenty recorded 25-30mm of rain.

The heaviest rain fell yesterday morning, with 81mm recorded at Rotorua Airport between 7am and 11am.

NIWA said Rotorua had its wettest hour since records began 54 years ago, with 51.8mm of rain falling between 10-11am yesterday.

In total, the town recorded 167.8mm between 4am Saturday to 6pm Sunday, or nearly 1.5 times the April monthly normal in 38 hours.

Other areas of the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel also recorded over 150mm in the past 24 hours.

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Heavy rain also caused flooding in parts of South Canterbury over the weekend, with 87mm recorded at Ashburton and Timaru airports since Saturday morning.

The torrential rain left Rotorua struggling to stay afloat yesterday, with Rotorua Lakes Council declaring a state of emergency in Ngongotaha during the afternoon.

Floodwaters ripped through homes in the suburb 10km northwest of Rotorua city, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate.

The flood has been described by locals as the worst seen in decades.

Western Rd resident Heidi Te Are was wallpapering her house when she looked out the window and saw the flood.

"There is hole in our kitchen floor we are doing up at the moment and I put my hand through it. Water was only one hand span away and I started freaking out."

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She told her 10-year-old daughter to pack up all her valuables and put them on top of her bed, while Te Are collected their three cats and Axe the dog.

Flooding on Elizabeth St. Photo / Ben Fraser
Flooding on Elizabeth St. Photo / Ben Fraser

They started to walk to the car but when Te Are was waist deep she decided it was too high to cross.

"We went back to the house and got the fire brigade in. I put all our stuff in the wheelie bin and one cat on top."

She said it was not until after the evacuation that she sat in her friend's car and the disbelief wore off. "Oh my God I'm homeless," she said.

Western Rd resident Colin Berryman had been watching the rain get heavier throughout the day.

"You know, there was a little bit of surface flooding.

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"Then I heard a funny noise inside the house, I went looking for it and it was actually the toilet bubbling.

"I looked out the window just in time to see a wall of water coming down the road."

Flooding on Elizabeth St, Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Flooding on Elizabeth St, Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

Berryman said the water was flowing with a strong current and his first thought was to secure things in the garden.

"The water eventually blew out my whole back fence, so it didn't matter.

"My house is on stilts, it hadn't come into the house yet when I left."

He said his neighbours' houses were under water.

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"It had come flooding through my garage, the large chest freezer, it was full, and it had just been pushed up on to its end.

"That's what shorted out the circuit board."

With the cars up to their door handles in water Berryman, his 16-year-old son and a friend had to be evacuated.

"I am definitely worried things will be worse when we do go back to see the house."

Having only packed a quick bag Berryman was to spend last night at the evacuation centre.

"All I wanted was dry clothes, if I took off my boots right now litres would pour out."

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A Ngongotaha resident described her terrifying ordeal in the flooding.

Ines Friese, who lives on Pioneer Rd, said water from the Ngongotaha Stream "raced down the road" towards her.

"We were just dropping something to my mother-in-law around the corner on Mohi Cres, water just came shooting down the street.

"I ran to check she was okay and saw a caravan floating down the road."

She said "It was like something out of a horror movie".

"There are cars in the water, houses that have their garage underneath and a house down the road that is still being built that is covered.

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"Floodwater is covering the road and they cannot get out."

Flooding on Pioneer Rd in Ngongotaha. Photo / Ben Fraser
Flooding on Pioneer Rd in Ngongotaha. Photo / Ben Fraser

Evacuations started about 3.30pm with some residents moved to the Emergency Welfare Centre at the Energy Events Centre.

Water was going through at least 30 properties in Ngongotaha.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) led a co-ordinated effort to evacuate residents from the area with council's civil defence teams.

Rotorua Duck Tours ferried them from their homes.

Food and hot drinks were awaiting the evacuees as the first busloads arrived.

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Residents who were able to use their own vehicles drove themselves to the centre.

Inside, services that had come to support Civil Defence, including IRD, Housing New Zealand, animal control and social support were set up and ready to help people and their pets. Catering was prepared for up for 200 people.

The deluge also trapped 32 people at the Agrodome, who were blocked from getting out on Sunday afternoon.

Video/Chelsea Small, Lynette Lope and Ben Fraser

An Agrodome spokeswoman said 12 customers and about 20 staff were safely evacuated later.

The Agrodome will be closed today until full structural checks can be made to the bridge and a full site inspection has been done.

At 5.30pm Rotorua Lakes Council declared a state of emergency.

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"With the severity of the situation escalating with more heavy rain expected before midnight tonight and light rapidly fading Mayor [Steve] Chadwick made the decision on the advice of emergency services and the acting civil defence primary controller," the council said.

Earlier the council said the downpour had overwhelmed the sewerage system.

"Some pump stations and the wastewater treatment plant are unable to cope with the volume of water trying to enter.

"This has caused overflowing and diluted sewage to overflow the system, which means there is contaminated wastewater entering the stream and lake. As a precaution, any surface water should be treated as contaminated."

Glenholme resident Joanne Beamish-White was disturbed to discover sewage spilling out of a drain under her kitchen window in Wallace Cres.

"It was coming right out of the drain and down the footpath," she said.

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"It is not in the house but I expect it will be under it."

Victoria resident Michelle Lihou told her family to pack their gear and valuables in the early afternoon.

She said the "swimming pool" of water had not seeped into her house on Pererika St but the drainage was blocked.

"The water started coming up the sinks and shower. We cannot flush the toilet because the water kind of overflows into the outer part of the house."

Lihou said it was going to be a "pain"to clean up but she was grateful her family was together.

Currently some of the worst affected areas are:

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Roads closed:

Rerewhakaaitu Rd – a manned closure at Brett Rd and Ashpit/Yankee intersection due to bridge damage;

Paradise Valley/Valley roads – manned closure near Agrodome and at Te Miri Rd due to extensive flooding and slips;

Endean Rd - closed due to three large slips;

Waikaukau Rd from Whirinaki Valley Rd - closed for approx 1km due to flooding;

Western Rd - closed due to extensive flooding;

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Elizabeth St - closed between King and Phillip streets due to contaminated floodwaters.

See below flooding sites not yet attended. All other sites listed previously have been cleared or checked and have subsided:

Charles Rd
Fryer Rd
Vaughan Rd
Pukuatua St
Bellevue Rd
Goodwin Ave
Whitaker Rd
Holland St
Koutu Rd
Sharp St
Arariterangi St
Pererika St
Brett Rd
Ashpit Rd
Republican Rd
Keith Rd
Stewart Rd
Sunset Rd

Crews are out to check the following Reporoa roads:

Campbell Rd
Deep Creek Rd
Strathmore Rd

Slips and trees partially cleared:

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Mountain Rd - underslip
Tumunui Rd - slips
Dansey Rd - slip and tree
Oturoa Rd - slip
Parsons Rd - slip

Slips and trees not attended to yet:

Te Akau Rd slip
Pongakawa Valley Rd tree
Sharp Rd slip

NZTA has just advised that a slip has closed State Highway 30 between SH34 and Matahi Rd. Police and Fire and Emergency are on site with a road crew on the way.

Te Ngae Rd and Iles Rd.

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Saturday, 28 April 2018

Meanwhile, a woman was rescued from her car on her way to KFC during a day full of emergency callouts caused by flooding, slips and tree falls in Rotorua.

The rescued woman, who only wanted to be known as Prue, was trapped on her way to get lunch.

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"I started to panic there for a while. I did not think the water was that deep when I started driving and then I got stuck halfway down Elizabeth St."

A woman wades through flood waters on Pioneer Rd. Photo / Ben Fraser
A woman wades through flood waters on Pioneer Rd. Photo / Ben Fraser

Prue said she called the emergency services as the water started seeping through the back doors.

"It took about 10 minutes for them to get to me, that was a relief. The water had made it to the front by then."

She said her engine was flooded and the car was pushed up on to higher ground.

"Let's hope it dries out," she said.

Kaylee Browne lives on a badly hit stretch of Lake Rd.

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She said this morning she "had seen better days".

"I got home from Whakatane at 4am and the road was driveable, Kuirau Park was not flooded. I woke at 10am to find my property underwater. Especially the bathroom and garage. I called the council and emergency services multiple times at that point. I parked my car on the street with the hazard lights on to stop people, to deter people, but some haven't got the message."

Browne said she had not ever seen it this bad.

"The water is not cold it is warm because it is mixing with the geothermal areas. I don't think it will be long until the pipes burst."

A police car that went to Byron Grove on the eastern suburbs of Rotorua for a family harm incident became stranded on the street this morning.

A resident said another police car arrived and pushed the stuck police car out. Both police cars then blocked the street to stop other vehicles going in.

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Residents on Byron Grove said the floodwaters in the cul de sac were so high, they were unable to leave their homes.

Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Service Chief Francis Boag said an indundation of calls started about 7am.

"All the guys are busy and totally soaking wet," he said just after 10am.

He said the brigade's two crews had been all over Ngongotaha, Hamurana and Rotorua.

"We are going from one call to the other, all flooding related."

Boag said most of the calls related to access problems cause by the volume of rain.

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"It has been a matter of shifting water away from homes or finding ways to provide a barrier, but the rain is not letting up. It's intensifying by the sounds of it."

He said the whole brigade of about 15 people was on deck, and despite delays he was adamant they would get to every callout.

"If it's anything that will cause major issues, give us a call. If we are not there straight away we will get to them. In the meantime we need people to be patient and careful around the likes of electronics. For the larger part drivers seem to be driving to the conditions and staying safe."

Kaylee Browne outside her home on Lake Rd, Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Kaylee Browne outside her home on Lake Rd, Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

On Sunset Rd, floodwaters rose quickly outside Sunset Primary School about 11am. While most bigger cars were able to get through, one smaller vehicle unsuccessfully tried its luck.

A Rotorua Daily Post reporter was there when the vehicle got stuck. Thankfully within minutes, a 4WD ute drove into the water with a tow rope and towed the vehicle out.

Kim Ho, who works at Better Quality Pies on Tarewa Rd, said it was "very bad" and the floor of the shop had been covered in water.

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"It's so bad, when the cars drive past they are pushing the water up into the shop.

"At this point customers can't even get in."

Glenholme resident Joanne Beamish-White was disturbed to discover sewage spilling out of a drain under her kitchen window in Wallace Crescent.

"It was coming right out of the drain and down the footpath," she said.

"It is not in the house but I expect it will be under it."

She said the smell was not so bad because of the constant water coming down, but visibly she could tell it was sewage.

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"It is pretty yucky, and no it's not ours. I know when I look at it."

Beamish-White said she called the council as soon as she saw it.

"It is pretty crazy, I am not sure how long this will be going for. It is mad out there."

Victoria resident Michelle Lihou told her family to pack their gear and valuables.

She said the "swimming pool" of water had not seeped into her house on Pererika St but the drainage was blocked.

"The water started coming up the sinks and shower. We cannot flush the toilet cause the water kind of overflows into the outer part of the house."

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Lihou said it was going to be a "pain" to clean up but she was grateful her family was together.

Pauline Spence sent a photo to NZME of a stranger she described as "a bloody legend".

"Bare feet and kneeling in the sh***y water to clear drains in Rotorua. Driver racing by and sending waves at him but he never faltered. After I took this photo he walked to the next drain, wading up to his knees and the knelt down so his entire upper body was immersed as he tried to clear the drain."

In Owhata, Sean Strickett said he woke to it "absolutely drenching down" about 4am.

"A guy a couple of doors over was out trying to clear the drains and I was just like 'oh wow', because it was right up past his knees.

"This happened just before Christmas last year, once it stopped raining it was all over in about 30 minutes."

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Strickett said it would be a stay indoors kind of day with lots of paper work to do.

"I guess this is a good excuse to get it done.

"It'll be right, I don't see it coming up our driveway."

A commenter on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page said they had lived in Rotorua for many years and had never seen flooding like this before.

"In all my years living in Rotorua I never saw flooding like this."

Another said her partner had spent the morning towing people out of "sticky situations" in his truck.

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"Stay home people, only go out if you have to," she said.

Another commenter said the whole stream was flooding up over the road on Aquarius Dr while one woman said Whittaker Rd was completely underwater.

Videos shared on the Facebook page show houses having to be cleared by the fire brigade, completely drenched gardens and leaking roofs.

While some residents deal with the flooding Jenni McGowan and her family were making the most of the stormy day.

"The weather here in Ngongotaha is pretty grim," she said.

"We were watching the rain from out the window and my almost 4-year-old mentioned splashing in muddy puddles like Peppa pig, so we did and we had a blast!"

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McGowan said Thomas, 3, and Mason, 1, were out splashing in the puddles for almost an hour before coming back in for a "nice warm shower".

"My plans for the rest of the day will be to try and dry all the washing and cook a meal for my friends."

How to stay safe and dry:

• Weather forecasts and forecast updates can be viewed online at www.metservice.com.

• The public is advised to avoid any unnecessary travel and for those on the roads to take extra care - drive to the conditions, take it slow and use headlights to help with visibility.

• Call the council on (07) 348 4199 if you need help or to report flooding, slips, tree falls or other weather-related issues.

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