Whanganui floods: What you need to know

Whanganui residents are facing evacuations on Wednesday afternoon, as heavy rain pounds the region, with fears it'll be worse than 2015.

Here's what you need to know:

  • A state of emergency has been declared, along with neighbouring Rangitikei
  • All schools there will be closed for the day
  • The Pipiriki River is forecast to rise to 13.3m by late Wednesday night
  • Evacuations are happening in Anzac Parade and Putiki, with Civil Defence centres opened at Whanganui Girls College and St Paul's Church
  • Floods and slips have closed highways across the North Island, including: SH56 at Opiki, SH3 from Awakino Tunnel to Tongaporutu
  • Warnings about slips and floods and are also in place for several sections of highway in the Waikato, Gisborne, the Hawkes Bay and Whanganui.

Live updates:

7:39pm: Whanganui River is expected to peak at 11.2m at around 3am tomorrow, at Pipiriki.

A 7.7m peak will follow at Town Bridge at 8am, Horizons Regional Council's Craig Grant says.

"Whanganui District Council's Emergency Coordination Centre will remain operational overnight as well," he said.

3:59pm: Fifty staff from the New Zealand Defence Force have now been sent to Whanganui and Rangitikei to help out, after another 25 were sent out this afternoon.

They'll be helping to evacuate residents, fill sandbags, check on residents in flooded areas and man cordons.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to provide additional assistance if required," Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said.

3:32pm: Rain has stopped falling in Whanganui, but the city is bracing for another hit tonight.

Moves are already underway to protect residents, with Māori wardens and police evacuating people from low-lying homes near the river.

A number of residents have already self-evacuated.

1:00pm: Whanganui residents are set to begin evacuating homes and businesses on Wednesday afternoon ahead of fears rising rivers could flood the town.

Evacuations will kick off in low lying areas from 12:30pm and run until 5pm after a state of emergency was declared in the area on Tuesday evening.

Cordons, security staff and sandbags have already been installed in parts of the town, while schools in the districts are closed.

It comes as most of the country prepares for a second downpour from the remnants of tropical cyclone Debbie on Wednesday afternoon, which already hit Auckland with the equivalent of its average April rainfall in just 14 hours.

12:35pm: Manawatu-Wanganui Civil Defence have tweeted photos from helicopter surveillance of the flooded Whanganui and Whangaehu rivers.

12:15pm: Whanganui's Kowhai Park stop-banks are not expected to stop the deluge, and there'll possibly be flooding in low lying areas of the city, the council says.

The latest information from Horizons Regional Council is that the Whanganui River at Pipiriki is forecasted to reach 13.3m by midnight.

This is likely to result in 8.6m at Whanganui City bridge at 7.00am on Thursday.

Evacuations in low-lying areas of Anzac Parade and Putiki will start from 12:30pm, says Whanganui District Controller Kym Fell.

11:15am: Several roads in Whanganui have been closed, ahead of more rain expected on Wednesday afternoon. 

10:30am: South Taranaki's Waitotara river is no longer considered a threat, after heavy rain pelted the area overnight. 

Authorities had been concerned the river would rise above 2015 flood levels and inundate the small town of Waitotara.

Concerned locals have lifted furniture off the ground and had been preparing for the worst.

River levels have peaked, but authorities say the situation could change. In 2015 most of the town was flooded.

Army sandbagging in Taranaki
Army sandbagging in Taranaki (Newshub.)
Waitotara River
The Waitotara River on Wednesday (Newshub.)

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