8 Mar 2017

Stock rescued from flood: 'You've just got to get in there'

7:51 pm on 8 March 2017

Some Clevedon locals stripped down to their underwear in a desperate attempt to rescue stock stranded by floodwaters today.

Stock rescued in south-east Auckland.

Shaun Brantsma helps rescue stock in south-east Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

The area has been hit hard by heavy rain that has drenched much of the upper North Island, trapping tourists in the Coromandel and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of campers, most of them children, from regional parks.

The plains around Clevedon village, south of Auckland, have been inundated by the swollen Wairoa River, leaving stock scrambling for any scrap of dry land.

Locals have spent much of the day driving up and down North Road, offering help to rescue stranded cattle, sheep and horses from the flood waters.

Ryan Roberts said there was stock missing all over the place.

"We're just assessing the situation, just seeing where the cows are, just making sure they're safe, and if not, we'll try our best to get to them, or get a boat and see if we can guide them away."

Tourist Rd, South Auckland, between Hunua and Clevedon.

Flooding on Tourist Rd, South Auckland, between Hunua and Clevedon. Photo: RNZ / Brad White

By mid-afternoon, Mr Roberts said he had helped rescue "30-odd cattle and a couple of horses".

To rescue one group of four cows, Mr Roberts and two other men had to swim through the floodwaters.

"They were stuck on a little island in the middle of where the river is. We just swum out, had a look around and there was a couple in the bush.

"We've had to swim them out of the way and get them back to dry land," he said.

And it was tough work to keep the cows' heads out of the water.

"They were a bit knackered, they had probably been out there for a while, but we did our best," Mr Roberts said.

Locals stripped down to help cows trapped in floodwaters near Clevedon today.

Locals stripped down to help cows trapped in floodwaters near Clevedon today. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

One of Mr Roberts' fellow rescuers, Shaun Brantsma, said they found one cow stuck in a tree that was almost drowning.

"It was well over both our heads, so we had to swim back with that one, taking turns holding it up out of the water, got our breath back and swam in again and got another four," he said.

"Now we've got to find the rest of them."

Mr Branstma said it was something he had to do to help the community.

"A lot of people's livelihoods are floating down the river at the moment, stranded. You've just got to get in there and get it done."

As the men were rescuing one cow, other locals arrived offering to bring down trailers and utes to transport them to drier paddocks.

Mr Brantsma said there had probably been some heavy stock losses in the area.

"A thousand sheep on Tourist Road are gone ... A few people I know have lost all their stock. Anyone we can help is better than nothing."

Flooding at the Clevedon polo club.

Flooding at the Clevedon polo club. Photo: RNZ / Brad White

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