The flood risk in the Buller and Inangahua rivers has prompted warnings for people to evacuate to higher ground. Video / Included
Hundreds of homes were evacuated in Buller and roofs were blown off in Wellington as the wild weather continued into the night.
The weather bomb that hit the west coast of the South Island this weekend – a 1 in 50 year storm – closed all roads to the Buller, prompted MetService to issue a rare “red alert” and regional emergency management to declare a state of emergency .
And the country’s weather authority has issued a spate of weather warnings for the country, including one for strong winds in the North Island.
Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said the river had swelled to an “extremely high” 11.3 meters but had not overflowed its banks.
“[It’s] at least a 50-year flood,” he said.
There were nerves around the 3:30 p.m. flood with a predicted tidal wave — but both passed without significant impact, Cleine said.
Emergency response officers waited until daylight to get a better picture of the situation – including when the currently closed roads to the region could be reopened.
In Wellington, Fire and Emergency had 28 weather-related calls overnight and responded to 19.
Team manager Belinda Beets said many of them involved blowing off roofs.
Much of a roof came from a house in Newtown. Roof tiles and a sign have come loose elsewhere in that district as well.
Steel hung from a roof of an apartment building in Taranaki St in the CBD, and doors were blown out in Ngaio.
More than 700 people in Buller were evacuated from low-lying areas to four evacuation centers in the district.
Earlier this morning, West Coast Emergency Management said there was still a large amount of water in the rivers needed to drain the Buller River – and people were asked to stay away from their homes.
Last night, the army deployed 14 personnel and seven vehicles from Burnham Military Camp in Canterbury to assist with flood evacuations.
When Cleine visited the centers this morning, people were playing cards – waiting for more information about the situation.
“We’re just reinforcing that message that while we’re very happy with how things are going, we need a few more hours for the river to settle down.”
In Westport, Fire and Emergency received 12 calls about fallen trees.
Squad manager Lyn Crosson said firefighters did not attend some of those because the council attended instead.
Weather warnings across the country
MetService has issued a strong wind guard from the Far North to the capital – in effect until 8pm tonight.
North Islanders were warned that wind strength in exposed areas could approach severe storms.
Up to 200mm of rain can accumulate over Mt Taranaki and up to 120mm over Tongariro National Park.
Taihape and inland Whanganui will see a windy Saturday with strong north to northwest winds expected in exposed areas on Saturday, with gusts of up to 120 km/h.
It’s a similar story on the other side of the North Island, with a heavy rain warning from 1pm to 10pm on the Bay of Plenty, east of Whakatane and the Gisborne mountain ranges.
There are also heavy rain warnings for the Tararua Ranges until 6pm in Wellington – and until 3pm in Marlborough.