5 Apr 2017

Third flood lucky: Whangaehu farming family dodge bullet

1:55 pm on 5 April 2017

A couple whose farm near was badly damaged in the 2004 and 2015 Whanganui floods says better preparation means they've got off lightly this time around.

Mike Cranstone rescues sheep on his flooded farm in 2004.

Mike Cranstone rescues sheep on his flooded farm in 2004. Photo: Supplied

About 100 hectares of Mike and Cath Cranstone's sheep and beef farm in the Whangaehu Valley ended up underwater and covered in silt in 2004, in what was a one-in-100-year flood.

A decade later in 2015, another flood hit and caused widespread erosion on their hills.

Mr Cranstone said although although the rain this time had not been at the record levels forecast, farmers were also now better prepared.

"What we have now that we didn't have in 2004 is a much better warning system. In 2004 we were under water at six o'clock in the morning and we had no idea that the flood was coming our way.

"There was poor internet and not much in terms of recording stations on the river."

Since then, the local council, civil defence and the government had invested a lot in recording and warning systems, he said.

"Now with better internet we can actually see how much rain is falling in the catchment and how much water is heading our way and the river levels.

"You can't predict the worst case and you can't farm for the worst-case scenario," he said.

"You've got to farm for the average season and deal with the tough seasons when they come along as best we can."

More rain is forecast for Whanganui today but Mr Cranstone said was hoping that too would turn out to be less than expected.

"We'll just carry on farming, we've got a few wet paddocks - hopefully they'll dry out."

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