A flash flood that suddenly overwhelmed Ngongotaha engulfing homes could not have been predicted or prevented, Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick says.
Chadwick, Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi and Civil Defence Controller Bruce Horne were among those who addressed media at Ngongotaha following yesterday's floods.
The sudden deluge of water saw people evacuated from their homes, mainly in Ngongotaha.
In answer to questions from the media about whether the council could have done more, Chadwick said "it was simply too much water too quickly".
"No one can get over how quick this was, how tumultuous it was. We know that we got 1.5 times the national average of rainfall in a day .... you can't see that deluge of water and the effects in a caldera like this.
"The council cannot stop the volume of water that was unleashed on this district yesterday."
However, she said the council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council would work together in its debrief to see how it could prevent future blockages.
"We know there are a few interceptors further up when you look at the mountains around us and there are some areas when they get drenched they unleash a torrent."
Chadwick said while drinking water was safe, there were public health issues with wastewater spillages and she advised people to check with local authorities before cleaning any spillages up themselves.
Chadwick was asked if the council was satisfied it had all the systems in place to cope with such weather events in Ngongotaha, particularly with new subdivisions being proposed there such as the SHA1 (Special Housing Area) on Hamurana Rd.
"This is unprecedented here. I can't say that about the extraordinary weather events we have expressed this summer."
When asked if there had been reductions in maintenance in recent years in clearing drains which might have contributed to the flood, Chadwick said she didn't not believe so.
"I don't believe there is. I have been with the CEO and I don't believe there is."
She said it wasn't just a matter of clearing drains.
"Clearing the drains was not the answer to the tumultuous amount of water that gathered up in the hills and then swept down here and completely overwhelmed a village.
"Some people were awfully sensible yesterday. They saw the danger, it was like a river coming towards them ... and they got out."
Faafoi said given the amount of a rain that came down in such a short time, the council and Civil Defence did "a hell of a good job".
He said the layout of the stream that burst twisted and turned, which created issues for debris and water build up. He said it went back to the primary issue of making sure people were prepared and he was impressed with how well everyone coped.
He said residents were "pretty happy" it wasn't worse than it was, despite the big clean up job ahead of them.
He said individual families might need Government assistance from the Mayoral Relief Fund and he would go back to Wellington to discuss that possibility.
Horne said seeing how quickly the surface flooding drained away was an indicator the drainage systems coped very well with the sudden influx of water.
Horne said the length of the State of Emergency was being reviewed today.
Horne said they were now in a recovery phase which meant they were going to individual houses to assess the damage as well as continuing to clean up roads and slips.
It wasn't yet known how many homes were badly damaged or would need to be red stickered.
Horne said the ultimate goal was to ensure everyone got through yesterday unharmed, which was achieved, however, he said there remained risks in the clean up process, particularly when dealing with electrical appliances.
"The good thing is that no one has been harmed ... Safety is less of an issue but it's still a factor."
He advised locals to be patient as it would take time.
"Nothing is going to happen as fast as people will like."
In a statement after the stand up Rotorua Lakes Council said roading crews were deployed to Paradise Valley Road and Endean Road first thing this morning to assess access issues caused by slips and flood damage to the road.
Both roads are now open to one lane and further clean-up of the debris will be ongoing throughout the day.
Until the extend of the damage in Ngongotaha has been assessed, the localised State of Emergency will remain in place although people are allowed back in their homes.
What to do if your home was affected by floods:
• Contact your insurance company
• Contact Council's Customer Centre on (07) 348 4199 and register your details so a recovery officer can make contact and see what support you need.
Once you return home:
• Always assume all flood water is potentially contaminated with farm run-off, fecal matter from animals, and sewage. Children in particular must keep away from flood waters.
• Ensure hands, clothes and property are thoroughly cleaned after contact with flood waters.
If damage is minimal and able to be cleaned by yourself:
• Ensure a suitable disinfectant is used following the instructions on the bottle/container
• Soft furnishings should be cleaned with boiling water and good disinfectant
• Scrub all hard surfaces until dirt is removed followed by a thorough wash using a good disinfectant
Other things to know:
• Mains drinking water is safe. If you get your drinking water from bores or intakes from rivers or lakes, it is advisable to boil the water first, as a precaution.
• Some parks and reserves may have been affected by contaminated flood water. Avoid letting children play in these areas and call Council on (07) 348 4199 if you are concerned about a particular area.
•Continue to avoid excess showering, washing and toilet flushing to reduce the impact on the sewerage system.
• Continue to take extra care while travelling on the roads as there is potential for further slips or unstable ground.
Earthquake Commission (EQC) claims
* You have three months to lodge a claim
* Claims can be lodged online at www.eqc.govt.nz/claims, via email on email@example.com, or by calling 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243). The EQC call centre is open 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays.