When it rains, you usually think "bugger" and go and get the washing in.

But Sunday was different.

As I left for work, I grabbed the keys to our 4WD - something told me my little Suzuki Swift wasn't going to be safe.

It was just after 10am and little did I know the weather I was heading out into was about to create history.

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Niwa has confirmed that between 10am and 11am 51.8mm of rain fell in the city - the wettest hour in Rotorua's history since records began in 1964.

With the wipers going like the clappers I was perched forward in my car seat, gripping the wheel tightly as I headed down Sunset Rd.

Outside Sunset Primary School I saw the lights of cars coming to a halt. Water was gushing across the road like a river and vehicles were approaching tentatively - clearly wondering whether they should give it shot at crossing.

Some bigger cars did, others weren't so game and turned around.

Just then a smaller car made a dash for it through the water - and failed. The vehicle stopped and suddenly things got serious. The water was rising around the car.

Thankfully a 4WD truck immediately drove into the water and reversed up to the car, a man in gumboots jumped out, attached a rope and pulled the vehicle to safety.

By then, I'd had enough of rubbernecking and turned around to get out of there. It was a zig zag through Rotorua's streets to get to the central city via a route I felt comfortable driving.

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In 22 years of living in Rotorua I've never seen flooding like it. It was, frankly, scary.

It was a busy day in the newsroom as the flooding carnage unfolded, especially when the stream banks burst in Ngongotaha at 3.40pm.

I had a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach for the residents, hoping this wasn't going to be another "Edgecumbe".

Stories of devastation started to unfold yesterday from residents returning to their homes.

No, no one was hurt, but precious possessions have been lost or damaged and hours of clean-up, stress and frustration lies ahead.