22 Jun 2015

'We could hear all the slips coming down'

7:08 pm on 22 June 2015

Many rural communities remain cut off in the Taranaki, Whanganui and Rangitikei regions following the storm that caused widespread flooding in those parts of the country over the weekend.

Aerial photo of Waitotara. Whanganui flood

Aerial photo of Waitotara. Photo: PowerCo

One of the worst hit areas as been the Waitotara Valley, where residents said the damage was worse than the devastating 2004 storm that swept through those regions and Manawatu.

Residents of the evacuated Waitotara township were able to return to assess damage to their homes yesterday, but farms further up the valley remained isolated with no power and road access cut.

Jared Belton, who farms 18km up the valley, was evacuated by helicopter yesterday, after spending a wet night under a tarpaulin.

He decided to move out of his house after getting a warning from a neighbour about the rising river.

"The neighbour up at Mahoe, he rang at about two o'clock to say it (the river) was over the 2004 mark, so we started setting up camp up on the hill beside the house. Then, about 6.30, it was flowing through the house.

"We could hear all the slips coming down.

"The helicopter came at about 10 o'clock and got me and my partner and the dogs."

Mr Belton said he was able to get most of his stock on to dry ground before the flood broke, but he said it could be a week until he got back to the farm, because the road was such a mess.

Paul Pedersen, who has land at the bottom of the flood-swept Waitorora Valley, was trying to organise a helicopter so he could get to his stranded cattle when Radio New Zealand spoke to him yesterday afternoon.

"All the river flats on both sides of the river have been covered with water and we have quite a lot of cattle. Some of them are marooned on little islands and we are hoping to try and get them out with the aid of the helicopter.

"We know some of them have been swept across the river and they're on a neighbour's property. Whether we've actually lost any stock, I'm not too sure.

"The tracks down to the bottom of the property have huge slips on them. I think there's more erosion in the district in this flood than there was in the 2004 flood."

Meanwhile, Canterbury, Otago and Southland were bracing themselves for another dump of snow overnight after heavy falls last week left parts of inland Canterbury and Otago under deep snow. Rural households in some areas remained without power at the weekend.

Roads throughout the region are affected.

Roads throughout the region are affected. Photo: Claire Bullock

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs