Wellington Scoop

River level drops, Wanganui emergency ends, 138 people can return home

News from Wanganui District Council at 2pm
The Wanganui District’s state of local emergency has been lifted. “The Whanganui River level in the urban area has dropped significantly to 7.6 metres and our river experts advise that there is no further risk of flooding or risk to the stopbanks from this weather event,” says civil defence controller Kevin Ross.

“We are contacting the 138 people who were evacuated from their properties to let them know they can go back to their homes immediately. Building and environmental health teams have been checking those properties and all properties inspected are safe to return to. Some property owners are receiving assistance from the Fire Service to pump water from garages and lime is being applied under a number of homes that had water under them.

“The next steps will include detailed inspections and repairs to parts of the stopbanks in the Kowhai Park arboretum area and near the Motorboat Club in the next few days. There is also a lot of surface water, particularly in the upper Kowhai Park area and near the Motorboat Club, that is contaminated with sewage and it will be a priority to clean up those areas.

“We are aware that there has been a considerable impact on our rural residents, particularly on the eastern side of the Whanganui River, with some serious land slips and damage to farm tracks. Obviously, this is a concern for our farming community as they move into lamb docking. However, we also know that our rural residents are resilient and well-prepared for emergency events and it appears that this event has had less impact on them than the 2004 emergency.

“I want to thank our partners – the Horizons Regional Council staff who have been working with us on the river issues, Army personnel from Whanganui and Linton, Red Cross personnel from Whanganui and Napier, our rural fire crew, the media, Emergency Operations Centre staff, our Alliance partners Downer, emergency services, utility companies, the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management and the people in the community who have helped with food and filling sandbags and a number of other tasks.”

Gas and power services are being reconnected to evacuated properties. Residents from those properties should contact GasNet or Powerco if services have not been restored when they return home.

Road cordons have been removed, other than in the immediate area of the PS Waimarie.

The Emergency Operations Centre is likely to be stood down at 5.00pm today.

News from Wanganui District Council at 8am
Wanganui had “a very lucky night” with the Whanganui River only slightly breaching the stopbanks at Kowhai Park. However, after midnight 20 more people had to be evacuated from properties on Anzac Parade above Kowhai Park after water went over the stopbank near the Motorboat Club.

“There is no doubt that the sandbags along the stopbanks at Kowhai Park saved us,” said civil defence controller Kevin Ross.

“The water was 300mm up those sandbags last night so without them the properties along Anzac Parade would have been flooded. Huge thanks to the Army personnel who filled and placed the sandbags.

“The immediate concern now with the stopbanks is the long peak water period which may compromise their integrity.

“The river flow won’t drop until about 3pm today and the road cordons will be reviewed then. Safety is the crucial factor in deciding whether to reopen roads. A drop of half a metre in the water level is needed before we can consider letting evacuated people return to their properties, and again that will depend on safety.

“Our thanks to the Army, emergency services, Red Cross, rural fire, emergency management and infrastructure staff of Wanganui District Council for their outstanding efforts yesterday and overnight. Thank you also to the members of our community who have provided food to those on duty and helped with sandbagging. It has been a great team effort.”

The declaration of a local state of emergency remains in place. This will be reviewed after the next Emergency Operations Centre briefing at 2.00pm.

Overnight an additional 20 people registered at the Civil Defence Centre at St Paul’s Hall, Cooks Street. Six of those were found temporary accommodation.

Total persons registered: 138.
Total persons found temporary accommodation: 25

The Civil Defence Centre opened at 8.30am for registrations and assistance for people who registered by phone overnight.

Road cordons are in place in the following areas: Anzac Parade – Jones Street to Georgetti Road and Jones Street to Helmore Street Putiki Taupo Quay and Moutoa Quay

All flood waters should be considered contaminated as the sewerage system has overflowed in some places. Do not enter flood waters or allow children or pets to play in the water.

Manhole covers may have been dislodged or blown on roads and footpaths throughout the district. People are urged to take the utmost care when travelling as the covers may have moved.

Wanganui Chronicle: Flooding causes hasty exit

News from Horizons Regional Council
The Whanganui River is sustaining an 8.2 metre peak following heavy rainfall in the catchment yesterday. A cordon is in place until the river drops half a metre and Horizons Regional Council’s incident controller Ged Shirley says this is expected to happen after midday.

“The river is still sitting close to its peak and our staff are monitoring this level closely,” he says. “The army is on standby until the cordon is relaxed and we’re confident the stopbanks can sustain their protection levels. At this point we hope to let residents know whether it’s possible to return to their properties around midafternoon.

“So far the water hasn’t risen up to the temporary flood barrier at the Wanganui Sailing Club or at Q-West Boat Builders at Balgownie so staff will start to dismantle this after midday also.

“State Highway Three at Whangaehu is now open to heavy traffic and is expected to be completely open in the next couple of hours as waters recede,” he says.

Throughout the rest of the Region, river levels have receded and are expected to continue to drop with only showers forecast for the next few days.

“The Manawatu River rose higher than expected overnight with the river reaching 7.7 metres at Moutoa. This meant we had a gate opening crew there from 4am but a decision has been made not to open the gates and the crew will be stood down from 10am,” says Mr Shirley.

The Rangitikei River is being held well within its stopbanks at Tangimoana and Scotts Ferry with 300 millimetres of freeboard remaining. The Oroua River peaked higher than expected overnight but has since gone down and the Makino and Mangaone Streams have also dropped.

Most roads are now open in the Ruapehu District following surface flooding yesterday.

News from Wanganui District Council – October 15
A state of local emergency has been declared for the Wanganui district because of the threat of flooding to properties and roads. Red Cross and Rural Fire teams have been visiting affected properties with evacuation information. This affects 110 residential and approximately 50 commercial properties in Anzac Parade, Taupo Quay and Putiki.

Residents of Anzac Parade properties between Mt View Road and Jones Street are being evacuated, as well as some properties in Putiki (on Takarangi Street, Kemp Street and Putiki Drive near the Whanganui City Bridge). Properties on the lower (river) side of Taupo Quay between Moutoa Gardens/Pakaitore and Pitzac, plus 2-28 Taupo Quay have been contacted (these are mostly commercial premises).

At 10pm: Civil Defence Controller Kevin Ross said it was too close to call whether or not the Whanganui River would overtop the stopbanks in the urban area tonight.

The river peaked at Pipiriki at 14.7 metres at 6.00pm, a level lower than predicted. The peak through the urban area is now expected at about 1.00am Wednesday and is currently predicted at 8.38 metres.

“We have been sandbagging the low points on the Kowhai Park stopbanks but at this stage it’s a close call whether the river will go over the top of the stopbanks – we just can’t say with certainty,” Mr Ross said. “There is also a risk that the prolonged peak of water may compromise the stopbanks, even if it doesn’t go over them.

“We will continue to monitor the river levels overnight with staff rostered within the Emergency Operations Centre. Having access to Army personnel from Wanganui and Linton has been fantastic. They have provided the manpower to fill and place the sandbags and have helped with the road cordons. The Red Cross emergency response team and the rural fire crews have also provided great support.”

A Civil Defence Centre has been set up at St Paul’s Hall, Cooks Street, to assist people who have to evacuate their homes. Security will be in place for evacuated areas.

The Matarawa Stream, which runs through Wanganui East, has been rising rapidly and raw sewage has entered the stream. Sandbagging is being done around the Matarawa Stream bridge where some properties are threatened by the stream bursting its banks. Sandbagging will also be done in Putiki and parts of Anzac Parade.

No bridges are closed. However, traffic travelling to and from Wanganui East should use the Dublin Street Bridge as part of Anzac Parade between Jones Street and Mt View Road is closed, except to residents who need to evacuate their properties.

All flood waters should be considered contaminated as the sewerage system has overflowed in some places. All power and gas lines should be treated as live at all times.

The public is requested to keep away from flood affected areas. Military personnel and police patrols will be operating overnight. Do not attempt to drive or walk through flood waters unless it is absolutely essential.

The Whangaehu, Mangawhero and Waitotara rivers are also rising. Water is expected to be across SH3 at Whangaehu by 8.00pm tonight.

Parihauhau Road – closed
Kaukatea Valley Road – closed
Longacre Road – closed
Mangamahu Road – closed
Burmah Road – closed (signs by Wyley’s Bridge)
Parapara – SH4 – closed
Kauangaroa Road – slips, but still open
Whangaehu Valley Road (used to be Field’s Track) – closed due to flooding
Whanganui River Road – closed due to flooding
Makirikiri Valley Road – closed due to flooding
Junction Road – closed
Te Rimu Road – closed due to flooding
Kaiwhaiki Road – closed Rangitatau East Road – open, but slips and drop out
Tokomaru West Road – open, but slips

News from Ruapehu District Council
Rising waters are threatening to cut-off Ohura and flood parts of Ohakune. RDC is liaising with partner response agencies and has dispatched extra staff to monitor the situation. Council contractors have been put on stand-by.

half a dozen Ohakune residents living on the Mangawhero River Terrace extension have self-evacuated as the river continues to rise. The Council has established a welfare centre at the Ohakune Primary School hall.

The Council has received reports that there is flooding across State Highway 4 at Erua which is threatening to close the road.

News from Ruapehu District Council at 5pm
The passing weather bomb has caused disruption around the Ruapehu district with schools closing earlier and significant damage to the road network. Ruapehu District Council Alternate Civil Defence Controller, Margaret Hawthorne, has advised Ruapehu residents to avoid all unnecessary travel tonight.

“We already have significant damage to Ruapehu roads with flooding, fallen trees and massive slips across the district,” she said. “At this time RDC has 24 separate road closed or dangerous road situations listed on our website; www.ruapehudc.govt.nz and there are bound to put other situations we are as yet unaware of. Although the weather has calmed down a bit for now there is another storm front forecast overnight bringing frequent showers and strong westerly winds.”

“If people do not need to travel this evening and tonight they really should not.”

“Even if the weather moderates with the damage to the road network people should stay home and keep warm and dry.”

“Council is asking Ruapehu residents to phone in any flooding, slips or other storm related issues to 0800 123 RDC (732).”

1 comment:

  1. ahmir, 16. October 2013, 12:44

    the flood was pretty bad