Western Bay of Plenty residents are cleaning up after a storm pounded the region Tuesday night flooding houses and businesses, forcing roads to close and residents to evacuate.
Heavy rain and strong winds hit Katikati and Waihi Beach from 6pm closing a section of State Highway 2 north from Fairview Road due to excessive flooding, as water reached the top of letterboxes down Marshall Road.
Backpackers pull up carpet at the Mural Town Backpackers after it sustained flood damage overnight.
Flooding on the roads in Katikati forced the closure of SH2.
Katikati Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Joe Manukau says the station received 14 emergency calls within two hours with most calls received between 8pm and 9.30pm when rain was at its heaviest.
“The first call was from Countdown where the internal gutter was blocked and we went in to help mop up,” says Joe.
“One car was stuck in water in the main street north end of town across the Uretara River at the lowest point of town.
“We had to assist people with what to do with their property. We tried to clear most of the water using pumps as much as we could but there were some places where we couldn’t use the pumps because we were just moving water around."
Waihi Beach volunteer non-operational firefighter Andrew Smith says emergency calls started at about 6pm and continued well after midnight, although he has lost count of the number of call-outs.
“We had two rows of pensioner flats we had to evacuate. That was about seven flats and seven people.
“Four of the pensioners were put up by the Beach Haven Holiday Park and three were taken to family.”
Andrew says the council reported it could be five-weeks before their homes are dried out and residents are allowed to return.
Flooding just north of Katikati.
He says Pacific and Beach Roads have been damaged by the storm with large holes in the seal measuring at least a metre deep.
“We’ve just had another call-out to the surf lifesaving club and we’re expecting more as people discover problems this morning. It is starting to rain again now but the forecast is for showers. Even our fire station got a lot of flooding out which wrecked a lot of our memorabilia,” says Andrew.
Today evacuated residents are being fed by Hot Pipi Café in Waihi Beach where owner Sonya Kelly says anyone who needs a meal is welcome to head to their café.
“So far we’ve fed four of the evacuees but we’ll feed anyone. We’re paying for it and I don’t know how much that is costing us.
“We don’t think about that. But if the firefighters or anyone needs something to eat we’ve told them to come see us. One lady had poached eggs this morning and another had French toast. They can have whatever they want really.”
Waihi Beach firefighters are still attending to flood damage at the surf lifesaving club.
Firefighters clear out water from the Waihi Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.
Beach Haven Holiday Park is providing four evacuated pensioners with a dry place to stay and has reserved as many as possible cabins as available for people in need of accommodation.
“Fortunately we only had three reservations,” says manager Yvette Johnson.
“The most damage was to the amenities as they are on the lowest part of the property. At one point a large chest freezer was bobbin around like a lost cork. Some of the units have water damage so we’re just trying to dry those out as soon as possible. The bathrooms and toilets are covered in mud."
At Wilson Street Dairy in Waihi Beach owner Yugo Patel says water began streaming into his store at about 6pm.
“I did a mop up and managed to open this morning as usual.
“The whole Waihi Road from Beach Road had flooding,” says Yugo.
The Waihi Beach airfield is submerged in water.
Water on Emerton Road in Waihi Beach.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council utilities manager Kelvin Hill says teams from InRoads and City Care worked through the night alongside volunteer fire fighters in Katikati and Waihi Beach attending to flooding problems.
“We are having a debrief now and then I suspect most of those people will be heading home to bed. We will be making contact with people who had their homes flooded to offer what support and assistance we can.”
Kelvin says the combination of the storm and a high tide exacerbated the situation putting pressure on the storm water infrastructure.
One part of Katikati which had experienced flooding in the past appears to have escaped this time, probably thanks to extensive storm water upgrades carried out by council around 18 months ago.
Tourists and staff at Mural Town Backpackers just north of Katikati are today lifting carpets after the hostel was flooded overnight.
People sleeping on the bottom floor of the backpackers had to be shifted upstairs as the lower level of the building started filling up with water.
Building owner David Thompson says carpet is being pulled up today and will be replaced with tiles to allow for easier clean up if it is to flood in the future.
David believes the flooding was caused by a combination of a full tide and a full moon.
Lower properties in Katikati were the most affected by the flooding as there was nowhere for the water to go, says chief firefighter Joe Manukau.
“It was about the time of the high tide. When the tide turned a lot of the water drained away with it. There was certainly a lot of water flowing around the place.
“It was so instant but the water went away as fast as it arrived. From 6pm the rain just got heavier.
Water began pouring through the roof of Countdown Supermarket at about 8pm over the top of the meat section into the isle.
Countdown Manager Michael Murray says all of the meat was protected and no food was damaged.
The supermarket was not evacuated and still closed as scheduled at 9pm.
Motorists travelling northbound on SH2 were forced to travel via Tauranga on SH 29 as the road was closed at 8.30pm.
One of seven cars removed from Beach Road in Katikati due to flooding.
Flood waters reached the top of the bricks on Marshall Road, Katikati.
Sheep stranded by flooding in Katikati.
A mark on the fenceline shows the water level.
Footpath destroyed by flooding on Beach Road, Waihi Beach.
Marks on houses on Wallnutt Avenue, Waihi beach show how high the flood waters reached.