Weather: Te Kuiti in clean-up mode after massive deluge over weekend

By Robin Martin for RNZ

The Waikato town of Te Kuiti is in clean-up mode after a state of emergency was declared following a deluge at the weekend.

Several inundated homes were evacuated and about 100 properties were without water after a water main burst during the deluge.

Between 160mm and 200mm of rain fell in Te Kuiti on Saturday - most during an intense burst during the afternoon.

Duke Street was one of the hardest hit areas.

Christine Flexman was helping to mop out her mother-in-law Raewyn's home which had been knee-deep in water.

"The water's gone down and we've broomed a lot of the excess off the carpet but you can see it's still pretty wet through all the bedrooms.

"Right throughout the whole house every inch of the place has been soaked in about 10 to 20 centimetres of water."

She said the heaviest rain began after lunch.

"You kinda just watched it and the fire crew came around and there was nothing you can do. We put towels across the doorway but it really just came through walls and everything.

"It was up about three bricks high on the outside and it just came through and before you knew it the whole house was flooded."

Raewyn Flexman surveys the damage of her Duke St home in Te Kuiti while family help with the clean up.
Raewyn Flexman surveys the damage of her Duke St home in Te Kuiti while family help with the clean up. Photo credit: RNZ / Robin Martin

Raewyn Flexman said the flood came out of nowhere.

"About lunchtime I was talking to my son and I said 'no, I haven't got water anywhere much it's all just going away' and about an hour later it was starting to fill the lawn up and come towards the door.

"And then I rang my other son and said 'how do you stop water coming in over the step?' and he goes 'I have no idea'.

"So, he came around and we thought about what to do and it was just building up down the whole street.

"The fire brigade called in and sort of said they didn't have anywhere to pump it too because it was full up everywhere down here.

"It was just running down the street. It was quite a good current running through the sections and really quite deep close to up to my knees down the driveway."

She was now waiting on insurance assessors to visit the house.

Duke Street was one of the hardest hit areas of Te Kuiti.
Duke Street was one of the hardest hit areas of Te Kuiti. Photo credit: Supplied to RNZ / Raewyn Flexman

Two doors down, Mavis Baker said she'd never seen anything like it.

"Water was really high everything was floating down the road. My sister's car was stuck in the driveway filled up with water.

"So, the whole community got together to drag her car out. Quite a few cars were stuck in the driveways actually and the people just dragged them out and once we got the cars out on the road and opened the doors up the waters just started gushing out."

Needing to keep people safe, Waitomo mayor John Robertson declared the state of emergency at 7pm.

"If you can imagine sitting here and watching the rain in that volume coming down, the river going up by 7pm it was close to record levels and we were worried it was going to continue to rise.

"So, our factors were the river's still rising, there's rain forecast, we're going into night, and we know there's flooding here and there's people might need assistance to get out of their houses."

The state of emergency was set to expire in seven days.