After seven months without a home, the light at the end of the tunnel has arrived for Rotorua's Heidi Te Are and her family.

April 29, seven months ago today, Te Are was stripping wallpaper in her Western Rd home when she looked out the window and saw the flood waters raging towards her home. Within an hour the residents were evacuated.

The flooding resulted in the declaration of a State of Emergency in Ngongotahā. Schools were closed and residents were left in shock.

Heidi Te Are and her family have built up their house from the ground after it was destroyed in the April flood. Photo / Stephen Parker
Heidi Te Are and her family have built up their house from the ground after it was destroyed in the April flood. Photo / Stephen Parker

It was later discovered, Rotorua had had the wettest hour since records began, with 51.8mm of rain falling between 10am and 11am that Sunday.


Around the city 94 homes were issued insanitary notices.

The day after the flood, Te Are told the Rotorua Daily Post of her ordeal as she tried to leave her home by wading through waist-deep water with her daughter before deciding it was too deep to cross.

"We waved down the fire brigade yelling out 'hello, hello, can someone please come and get us?'"

The week after the evacuation, Te Are juggled work commitments with stripping their house where they had lived for six years by getting rid of everything that was water damaged in a bid to dry it out quickly.

"We had all these people, people we knew, just turn up to help us. We honestly had about 20 people there and we couldn't have done it without them."

On Tuesday the Te Ares were told they needed to send "a few paperwork things" to Rotorua Lakes Council and, once sent, they could finally move home.

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"To say we are happy is an absolute understatement," Te Are said.

The seven months between then and now have been bittersweet for the family.

Late last year her father-in-law retired from his building career to look after his wife who was in ill-health. In March this year her mother-in-law died and in April the flood hit.

"We were able to move into the house next to my father-in-law and it was awesome to be so close to him," Te Are said.

"We were also incredibly lucky that he came out of retirement to fix our home.

"It really has been a year from hell but there have also been silver linings."

Prior to Tuesday's code of compliance inspection, the house had already been inspected and failed twice.

That aside, the family was super excited to be able to finally go home.

"We've moved most of our things back. Actually pretty much everything to the point I have to come to Ngongotahā to get my clothes and once, even my toothbrush," she laughed.

"Our house is renovated, decorated and insulated. We've got a beautiful place to move back to but one we have worked bloody hard for."

Te Are said the flooding was traumatic and there had been tough times since, but admitted the end result was a good one.

"Yes we lost stuff, stuff I'll never be able to replace. Yes our lives were disrupted. Yes it's been a year from hell.

"But, at the end of the day, we have achieved our five-year house plan in seven months and we have a much nicer home to live in."