30 Nov 2020

Porirua flood cleanup continues ahead of more heavy rain

6:33 pm on 30 November 2020

Residents in Plimmerton have spent the day cleaning up as much as they could, following the devastation of the flooding on Sunday.

Firth Street, in Plimmerton, which experienced some of the worst of the flooding.

Firth Street, in Plimmerton, which experienced some of the worst of the flooding. Photo: RNZ / Harry Lock

Torrential rain rendered 15 properties in the Porirua suburb uninhabitable, with those residents now needing a temporary place to stay.

There is more heavy rain forecast for this evening, with the council's crews out and about trying to prepare the city's infrastructure for the impending wet weather.

"The stream at the back - the stream was so high, my water couldn't get out to join it, so it was just swirling around," said one woman, whose house is now carpeted in mud and sludge.

The woman - who didn't want to be named - lives just off Karehana Park, where the worst of the damage is.

"My CDs have all gone, my books have all gone, my clothes in the wardrobe, I've got no t-shirts, no nighties, all those things are all gone as well. My winter clothes, they're gone too."

The council has been going around properties today ensuring all the residents are okay and have what they need.

Skip bins will be dropped off in the suburb tomorrow for people to throw their damaged belongings into, and will then be transported to the tip.

Helping hand from unexpected visitors

All hands are on deck getting the sludge and silt out of the floors, yards, and pavements.

Ten members of Mana Lions turned up to support Margaret - the widow of a former-Lions member - whose house was one of those hit.

"She's finding it very difficult - she's by herself, and it's in the house, part of the house, so we're supporting her.

"So when you get a whole group of people together, it's amazing how quickly you can get it done."

Plimmerton resident Allan Dodson was one of the lucky ones - his house wasn't flooded.

He's done his bit to help, but he's been blown away by the support shown to their little community by the entire city.

"We had kids cycling from over in Paremata which is about 5km down the road - coming up to people and saying, 'I'm here to do anything you want me to do'."

There were more unexpected visitors as well.

"Little water crayfish," Dodson said. "They're about a couple of inches long, they were big ones, and because the kids were cleaning out the drains as so forth, they were finding them.

"So we put them into a big bucket of fresh water, and kept them overnight, and I released seven of them back into the reserve. Scatter them along because they're grumpy little things."

More rain forecast: "race against time"

With more rain on the way, it's not over just yet, for residents, or for the authorities who have spent today gearing the city up for it.

A heavy rain warning and a strong wind watch are in place for Wellington and Kāpiti Coast.

NZTA is warning there could be road closures and delays as rain causes more flooding.

Wellington Water has had crews go around ensuring the culvets were clear, and there would be no blockages.

Chief stormwater advisor, Ben Fountain, said at least two high capacity pumps will be working in an effort to shift water as quickly as possible.

"So we're trying to get it to the sea, so we're trying to pump from the low-lying areas, like Karehana park, and try to get that flood flows as fast as possible out to the sea."

The issue could come down to the size of the pipes, which Mayor Anita Baker said were unable to deal with the sheer volume of water.

"They took what they could, but the amount of water that came was way more than those pipes could hold. So those pipes were actually working, we just had more water than we could deal with. But in the long run, we definitely need larger pipes."

Meanwhile, there were two overflows of sewage into the sea last night, which the Mayor said happens every time there's a large weather event.

More money for water pipe infrastructure will be crucial, she said, not just to deal with a growing city and more housing developments, but the existing threat of climate change.

"The events are happening more often. The one in 100 year flood is now happening regularly, not occassionally, so yes, I expect there will be more events, and it's how we deal with it."

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