2 Feb 2018

Underwater: 'Everything is floating'

10:14 am on 2 February 2018

A West Coast woman says everything in her home, including the pot plants, is floating in the wake of ex-cyclone Fehi.

Flooding in Westport

Flooding in Westport Photo: Chris Cooper

Ruth Vaega and her husband live close to an estuary near Westport.

She was with her granddaughter, who is one-and-a-half-years-old, when the home flooded early yesterday.

"It happened so fast. It was a big surge. She was playing with her toes in this water and I said 'what have you done there?' and of course it was coming through the floorboards."

The house, the studio, and motorbike shed were all under water, she said.

"It was over a metre in the studio ... the house is higher but it was still a good one-and-a-half feet through the house."

Ms Vaega said they had to wait out the day in their caravan without power and wade back to the house when they needed something.

"We had no idea that it was going to come in so quickly and be so high. We have a trailer that was floating away - everything's floating - all the pot plants," she said.

The Buller District is facing a major clean up after a number of houses were flooded and contaminated with waste water.

Mayor Garry Howard said about 100 people were evacuated from their homes, and some properties had been damaged in coastal townships including Granity and Ngakawau.

He said Carters Beach was isolated.

Mr Howard said the rain had stopped and people were already out this morning, accessing the damage today.

"We will have another big tide again today but at least things have calmed down, the wind has calmed down, and the storm surges have stopped so fingers crossed and everybody is to the repair stage," he said.

Meanwhile, State Highway 6 on the West Coast has been battered by waves and heavy rain, with chunks of the road completely washed out.

Jenny, who is on holiday from Hamilton, told Morning Report she was at Punakaiki Rocks when the waves starting coming in.

"The waves were coming right over the road and basically it just broke the road. The path went and the fence went... The waves were coming right over and hitting the trees on the other side of the road."

Jenny said debris was flying everywhere, and the experience was wild.

Meanwhile, a dairy farmer near Hokitika has had about ten percent of his land damaged by the storm surge.

Andrew Wiffin farms right on the coast, just north of the town, and said the sea left behind broken fences and debris.

He said it had been a wild 24 hours.

"So, the storm surge on the farm was probably the worst but along with the wind it probably covered seven hectares of land, which would have got saltwater all over it - it's all soaked and covered in big sticks and debris," he said.

Mr Wiffin said the clean up would take weeks.

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