15 May 2015

Rain causes 'chaos' across Kapiti Coast

12:22 pm on 15 May 2015

Kapiti Coast residents say the flooding they experienced yesterday is the worst they've seen in years.

Melling bridge under pass

Hutt River resident Julia McKelvie: "I could see the Hutt River spilling up towards the motorway." Photo: George Bignell

Civil Defence said Thursday's heavy rain and flooding affected hundreds of thousands of people throughout the lower North Island, with 27 houses evacuated on the Kapiti Coast.

The body of an 80-year-old man was found in floodwater yesterday afternoon near Sladden Park in Petone but police said it was not known what bearing the flooding had on his death.

People living up the coast and in the Hutt Valley were stuck for hours in traffic, and faced chaotic scenes trying to get home.

It took Porirua resident Pip Kernaghan hours to get home yesterday, despite setting off at midday.

At points in her journey, she ended up driving down the wrong side of the motorway to get back home from Lower Hutt.

She said she got to Porirua after the flooding had subsided, but the main road was closed so she had to take an alternative route. She described the experience as chaos.

"I did notice there was a lot of debris all over the road, there was a couple of cars on the right hand side of the road, and they looked like they had been washed into each other.

"One of them was halfway up the footpath and was nose to tail into the back of the other car, and then there was another car further back up there up on the footpath as well with debris all over the top of the roof of the car. There was just stuff everywhere."

Ms Kernaghan has lived in Titahi Bay since 1985 and said she had never seen it this bad.

Emergency kayaks in Kapiti.

Residents in Kapiti turned to kayaks, canoes and boats. Photo: Supplied

Ben Semeri couldn't get to his home in Porirua so decided to pick up his kids from Tawa Primary School.

He said when they arrived, the classrooms were flooded, and some children had to be transferred by canoe.

"They put kids in the canoes and pulled them across the water. It was quite fun - I wanted to jump in there."

Bill Allen's street in Titahi Bay was badly flooded and the water comes down the hill quite substantially when it rains.

He said his neighbours were flooded and he "got out and about with my spade and cleared a few drains."

Mr Allen took a drive around his suburb to make sure no one was stuck and see if anyone needed some help, and came across quite a few cars that had got stuck trying to cross water.

"One old chap in particular needed rescuing out of his car at the bottom of Te Pene and Titahi Bay Road, so he got out of his car, but there was a bit of water damage."

He has lived in the area for about ten years and said he had not seen flooding quite as bad as this, but the councils had done a good job improving the drains.

"So the flood waters did recede quite well once the rain had stopped, but the amount of water coming down was horrendous."

"There was so much traffic on the road and congestion that it probably didn't help with things.

"It was absolute chaos. Lots of people in stalled cars driving too fast through water and parked on the side of the road and just getting in the way generally."

Flooding at CrossFit Porirua.

CrossFit Porirua owner Liam Mclwee was planning an open day on Saturday. Photo: Supplied

The CrossFit Porirua Gym has just moved to new premises and its owner Liam Mclwee was planning to have an open day on Saturday.

He said the rain started coming down and all the streets were closed, "it looked like the Colorado River was coming down the street".

Mr Mclwee ended up having to walk to his business and, when he arrived, the whole main floor of the gym was 10 to 15 centimetres under water.

He said it looked like the sumps outside of the building were badly blocked.

"So I've been down on my hands and knees cleaning out the sumps, and just trying to get all the gunk out of those, so hopefully that helped the cause a little bit as well."

Hutt Valley resident Julia McKelvie attempted to try to get to work but only got as far as Melling.

"There was debris all over the road, officers telling people to turn back, trucks trying to clear up road works and I could see the Hutt River spilling up towards the motorway. I've never seen it that overflowed before."

She said that she noticed huge queues at petrol stations.

"Every row in every petrol pump was just chocka, they were all chocka full of people. So people were panicking, clearly."

People are being advised to work from home today, as more heavy rain in the region is expected.

Flooding in Porirua this afternoon.

A car in floodwaters in Porirua on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Kate Gudsell / RNZ

Commuters head into Wellington Railway Station.

Commuters head into Wellington Railway Station on Thursday. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Gillies