"We're definitely coming back here. There's no question about that."

That's the message from defiant flood victims in Ngongotaha who say it won't deter them from living there.

Miriam Hewson and her husband bought a house on Oakland Place roughly two years ago.

They weren't home when the flood waters started rising but returned on Sunday evening to find they couldn't access their house.


"I drove up on to Hill Rd and all I could see was the house down there, and it was just a big lake," Hewson said.

Miriam Hewson says the family doesn't expect to be back in their house till summer. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Miriam Hewson says the family doesn't expect to be back in their house till summer. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

The next day when the family returned, the water had drained away leaving mud and silt behind.

Three days later, the house has been cleared, carpets are being pulled up and the insurance claim process is under way.

"It got everywhere, into the kitchen cupboards, the kids' rooms and toys," Hewson said.

Over the next few months, the house will have to be pulled apart and put back together.

The gib is useless, the carpets were soaked, muddy water got into the plumbing and the kitchen needs replacing.

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"People say that teaches you for building in a swamp but the water came from the river not the ground."

Steve Brake says he wouldn't consider living anywhere else. Photo/Ben Fraser
Steve Brake says he wouldn't consider living anywhere else. Photo/Ben Fraser

Western Rd has in previous years been the subject of controversy due to land subsidence issues, however the council has said Sunday's floods were unprecedented.

"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," mayor Steve Chadwick said this week.

"The council cannot stop the volume of water that was unleashed on this district."

Hewson said they had been told it would take three or four months to repair the house, but they did not expect to be back until summer.

"It's definitely not easy, at the end of the day it's just stuff. We're all safe," Hewson said.

"We wouldn't go anywhere else. We love it here, and everyone we talk to says the same. We're definitely coming back here. There's no question about that.

"Our community was pretty tight before but it's going to be even tighter now."

Hewson hoped the council would do something about the stream so the same did not happen again.

Steve Brake owns two houses in Ngongotaha. He said he went outside on Sunday and saw the waters rapidly rising.

A truck broke down in the waters and Brake helped pull the occupants to safety.

"The water broke and we had no warning," his wife Raelene Brake said. "We came out to look and it was coming up within minutes."

Brake said the shed at one of the houses was most affected by the flooding with the contents covered in mud.

He was amazed the water rose as far as it did.

"On Sunday night we slept at home. Every now and then I'd put my foot down and touch the carpet to check, yup it's still dry."

But despite the floods, Brake wouldn't consider living anywhere else.

"I love it here. I was brought up down the road.

"We knew this was swamp but that's not the problem. It's the river. I hope they do something about that.

"There are a lot of nosey people but all the neighbours, they've got their own stuff to do but they've come around and said 'do you need a hand'."

The council is working to clean up affected areas by the end of the week. The clean-up includes street and footpath sweeping and checking and clearing cesspits.

A relief fund is being set up for community donations to the residents affected by Sunday's flooding.

In the meantime, a holding account has been made for anyone who would like to make donations specifically for that fund.

Donations can be made to the bank account number below or in person at the front desk at the Rotorua Lakes Council building (1061 Haupapa St) between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Details for donations:
Account number: 02-0412-0234516-006
How: Direct Credit or in person at Rotorua Lakes Council building

The council's Civil Defence welfare team is continuing to speak with affected residents to assess their needs.

The council was not aware of any goods that were required but we encourage people to call the council's customer centre on (07) 348 4199 if they would like to offer help of any sort.