16 Aug 2010

Damage assessed after Bay of Plenty flooding

8:24 pm on 16 August 2010

Building inspectors are touring the sodden eastern Bay of Plenty to assess damage caused by the weekend's flooding.

Repair work continued on Monday at a stopbank near the Whakatane River, which collapsed prompting the evacuation of nearby houses and the flooding of low-lying farmland.

River levels in the area dropped on Sunday, and the 10-metre breach on the left bank of Te Rahu Canal, which branches off Whakatane River was blocked.

Seven Whakatane families evacuated from their homes were allowed to return home on Monday, including Deb Smits who says she has never seen anything like it in the six years she has lived there.

Ms Smits, who runs a cattery and boarding kennel, was told by council staff on Sunday night to evacuate. Staff helped to safe shelter for the 10 dogs and 12 cats she and her husband were caring for.

Whakatane District Council flood duty manager Roger Waugh said water was being pumped from low lying farmland and several pumps were in transit from Auckland and Taupo on Sunday evening to help in the operation.

Mr Waugh says no water went through any properties, but it will take days for staff and contractors to clean up flood-stricken farmland.

Whakatane District Council closed its emergency response centre and a welfare centre on Sunday evening.

However, boaties in eastern Bay of Plenty are being advised to remain on land following the heavy rain and flooding.

Mr Waugh says the Whakatane boat ramp has been closed due to debris and high river flow, and boaties are being warned not to use the river bar.

At its peak, the Whakatane River reached about 7.1 metres. In the 2004 floods it reached 7.8m.

Up to 311mm of rain has fallen in parts of the region in the past two days. The council says it is the third flood of the year in Bay of Plenty.