31 Jan 2018

Kaiaua residents relieved after storm downgrade

3:02 pm on 31 January 2018

By Nikki Mandow

Kaiaua residents are breathing a sigh of relief, after news MetService downgraded storm and wind warnings that had threatened to flood their houses for the second time in a month.

Flooding on Kowhai Ave in Kaiaua.

Flooding in Kaiaua earlier this month. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Early this morning, people in the small town were getting out the sandbanks, sealing their doors and planning to move cars to higher ground, preparing for another big sea surge tomorrow.

But soon after midday, MetService updated its forecast.

Kaiaua will still get tides of more than 4m around 8.45pm tomorrow and 9.20am on Friday.

However, they should be spared the strong winds and low pressure that devastated the town on January 5 that left houses and streets underwater, as the sea wrote off most of the town's cars.

Flooding in Kaiaua.

Flooding in Kaiaua. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Hauraki District Council Mayor John Tredidga said local civil defence are taking a cautious approach.

"We are not expecting any damage from the high tides. However, we will have a watching brief and we will have three or four people going up there tomorrow morning just to keep an eye on it to make sure nothing changes.

"The New Zealand weather can change very quickly."

Mr Tredidga said at a meeting this afternoon the council would be looking at measures to help residents.

"We are aware a number of people are considering things like raising their houses and they will require building permits and maybe consents. I'm pretty keen to see what support council can give.

"So in our council meeting we are looking at what sort of relief fund is possible, and the way in which we can help these people that need to look at their properties and how they might protect them from future flooding events.

"We hope to have a positive decision later this afternoon.

Kaiaua after flooding.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Residents had not yet got back to normal after the January 5 storm.

Lynn Yeager, who runs the Pink Shop and Cafe in Kaiaua, said some people were really scared by the scale of the previous flooding. There was widespread damage and the sea rose so fast most residents could not save their cars. Most were written off.

"We were closed for a week, the kitchen only reopened last week. We've still got a lot of work to do out the back but I'm going to wait now to see what's going to happen in the next couple of days."

Ms Yeager said the town was resilent and she had not heard of anyone wanting to move.

"I think people are just getting on with it. I know one person had to go away for a week, but then came back to deal with it. There was a lot of damage, not just in the town, but further up the coast."

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