30 Mar 2019

Heavy rain warnings as West Coast recovers from floods

12:09 pm on 30 March 2019

MetService has issued warnings about heavy rain coming to Westland on Sunday night as the region works to repair the damage caused by flooding this week.

The floods left one woman dead, cut power and communications in parts of the West Coast, and completely destroyed Waiho bridge which provides access between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.

The warnings predict about 100mm to 150mm of rain about the ranges, and 60mm to 90mm over 12 hours from 7pm Sunday.

They said up to 35mm of rain an hour were possible, MetService said, and could cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly.

Forecaster Fulong Lu said many places received between 500mm and 700mm of rain in 48 hours, causing pass and road closures.

He said the intensity and amount would be much less than that on Sunday, but would still cause damage.

"This one will cause some damage but less damage compared with the last one.

"In Westland, damage was caused by the last event and some areas haven't recovered from the previous damage so the incoming heavy rain will impact on Westland."

Mr Lu says the moving front would likely bring rain to areas in the North Island in the coming days.

Power outages

Power had yesterday still not been restored to Haast.

Tuesday's storm damaged the intake of the local hydro-electric plant which Haast relies on for power, blocking it with thousands of cubic metres of gravel and debris.

Resident and business owner Pamela Adams said most local motels, cafes, and the supermarket, have had to close as backup generators have failed.

"Most people in town haven't had a shower in three days.

"We have one elderly woman here who's got medication and she's required to travel six kilometres every three hours just to get her medication from the petrol station which has a fridge where it can be kept.

"People are getting pretty irate."

New Zealand Energy director David Inch was unable to give a timeframe this morning on when power could be restored.

Meanwhile further north Chorus says phone and internet connection to Fox Glacier was expected to return to normal early this afternoon.

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