Farmer Neil Heather. Photo / Stephen Parker
Farmer Neil Heather. Photo / Stephen Parker

NEIL HEATHER, Paradise Valley

Neil Heather went out in his tractor to rescue his neighbour who was clinging to a tree trapped by floodwaters on Sunday.

His tractor got stuck and stopped dead, and he ended up on the roof.

The two men were rescued by others with a dinghy and a rope attached.


"All I can say is that when you see people in trouble, you just go and help them. Tractors are expensive but they are fixable, lives are not. I have not regretted it [the dangerous rescue mission]."

Heather's farm access has been "severely affected", so he is having to reach parts of the property via the neighbour's property and can only use grass for animal feed, not hay or silage.

He estimated the farm damage would be in excess of $30,000.

"There is bugger all we can claim with insurance. The tractor and motorbike are insured but we cannot cover the clean up costs and fixing fencing. That is a bill we have just got to suck up."

His family has farmed the 325ha property since 1921.

Sunday's flooding was the worst they have experienced since 1958 "when the water went under the woolshed".

Brooke Ellis lives next door to Ngongotaha Stream. Photo / Stephen Parker
Brooke Ellis lives next door to Ngongotaha Stream. Photo / Stephen Parker

BROOKE ELLIS, Ngongotaha Rd

Brooke Ellis' family evacuated on Sunday night, and returned on Monday to find water up to 3m deep throughout their home and backyard.


It took them two days to pump it all out.

Her daughters went back to school on Tuesday and Ellis and her husband went back to work on Wednesday.

"Although I shouldn't have. My body was there, my mind wasn't."

On Friday afternoon, the family was starting the insurance-claim process, but they were still waiting to be visited by the council and to start inspections.

"All of the downstairs is full of mud. The kids' bikes, our motorbikes and cars are all ruined. It is the same with our furniture, the spare beds. The water seeped up through the floorboards into the girls' bedrooms too."

The family has been staying in town since Sunday.

"We are in limbo. We are stuck. It is really sad. We feel like we have been forgotten about by the council," Ellis said.

Ellis said she did not think her daughters understood how "big" the flood was for the family yet.

"Give it a couple of days and we will see."

Heidi Te Are. Photo / Stephen Parker
Heidi Te Are. Photo / Stephen Parker

HEIDI TE ARE, Western Rd

Heidi Te Are, her 10-year-old daugher, their three cats and the dog were rescued by the fire service on Sunday when they found themselves trapped by water.

She had been busy renovating her home of 16 months when she realised the water was just a handspan away from the floor boards.

Yesterday Te Are said she had spent the week juggling work with managing her damaged home.

"We have been cutting down the walls and taking the doors off. The cleaners came in today to hose the place out."

She, too, is navigating the insurance process, and collecting quotes from builders, plasterers and painters for that.

"We have been staying at my father-in-law's, but we have no idea when we can go back in. It depends on the payout process."