20 Mar 2012

Northland neighbour rescues woman from tree

12:54 pm on 20 March 2012

A Northland man says emergency services had to watch from afar as he helped rescue his neighbour stuck in rising floodwaters.

Nearly two months of rain has fallen in the upper North Island region since Sunday afternoon.

Kathleen Abbott became trapped in her car as she tried to cross a bridge near Otaika, south of Whangarei, on Monday.

The 61-year-old got out of her vehicle, but was swept downstream by a strong current.

Neighbour Dick Pickering told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Tuesday that he and his daughter used a kayak to help save the woman who was clinging to a tree for safety.

"She was screaming out and she reckoned that she couldn't hold on. She was virtually hanging upside down in this tree with the current tearing round her.

"Her head was below her hips because she had a leg over a branch ... so we got her out as soon as we could."

Mr Pickering says the ambulance service could not reach the woman because of the floodwater and had to assist once she was rescued.

The rain has eased in the region on Tuesday, but a close eye is being kept on swollen rivers.