4 Aug 2008

Slips, road closures as stormy weather returns

12:59 pm on 4 August 2008

There were further slips and road closures as storm conditions returned to New Zealand on Saturday, following a week of severe weather.

Wellington City Council staff say there were at least 20 slips in the region, following heavy rain overnight on Sunday.

Council staff say more slips could occur over the next few days as soil moisture levels remain high.

A house in the Aro Valley area of Wellington was evacuated on Sunday morning, following a large land slip that blocked Devon Street and pushed a car into a nearby fence.

Roading experts were examining a stretch of State Highway 35 between Ruatoria and Tikitiki, on Monday, after subsidence forced its closure the previous day.

Waikato regional council's emergency response team has been monitoring high river and lake levels.

Huntly College was closed on Monday as a precaution, in case of flood.

The effects of the severe storm that hit the country earlier this week continued to disrupt the rail network.

The TranzCoastal passenger train service between Christchurch and Picton is cancelled due to blockages on the main line.

Kiwirail spokesperson Nigel Parry says alternative transport for those booked on the service will be arranged if roads are clear.

This includes through passengers, travelling between Christchurch to Wellington via the TranzCoastal and Interislander ferry.

Taranaki rain

Taranaki had heavy rain in the latest storm front, which covered much of the eastern part of the North Island from North Cape to Wellington.

Metservice recorded up to 170mm on Mt Taranaki in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, however Taranaki Regional Council says it did not put added pressure on rivers and waterways.

Storm cost

The Insurance Council says claims worth $25 million dollars have already been received for damage suffered during the storms, and it estimates the total cost will be up to $50 million.

The council's chief executive, Chris Ryan, predicts insurance companies will have to raise their premiums in the coming weeks.

He says that is because storms which cause major damage are becoming more frequent.

Power cuts

About 200 homes in rural parts of Horowhenua in the North Island area were still without electricity on Saturday, but power company Electra said by Monday the number had dropped to about 30.

Winds of up to 120 km/h during last week's storms brought down more than 30 kilometres of power lines throughout the region, cutting power to about 30,000 people.

In Auckland, dozens of residents were without hot water on Saturday, a week after the severe weather damaged power supplies.

Power company Vector estimated 40 to 50 homes are still without their hot water supply.