17 Aug 2022

Extreme weather: West Coast braces for flooding, state of emergency declared

10:06 pm on 17 August 2022

More heavy rain is expected in Nelson, Westland and Buller tomorrow after flooding led to evacuations in Nelson and Buller today. See how the day's events unfolded with RNZ's blog.

A state of emergency was declared in Nelson after the Maitai River burst its banks on Wednesday afternoon, flooding areas of the central city.

Civil Defence said 233 homes were evacuated in Nelson East after it asked people who lived near the river from the Nile Street Bridge to the Golf Course to evacuate.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel were patrolling the evacuated area overnight.

Motorists were asked to stay off the roads due to flooding and slips with more rain forecast for Thursday.

A state of emergency is also in place across the West Coast after severe weather warnings were raised to red for Buller and Westland until Thursday afternoon.

MetService updated its heavy rain warning for the Nelson region to red, saying the rain was expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding.

NIWA said Tākaka in Golden Bay got more than a month's worth of rain in 15 hours on Wednesday.

MetService meteorologist Ashlee Parks said the heaviest falls had been in the Tasman ranges, which has poured down the valleys and caused rivers to rise in the city.

A voluntary evacuation order was also announced for parts of Westport, Seddonville and Mokihinui as a precautionary measure on Wednesday.

About 160 households in three areas were asked to voluntarily evacuate. See here for complete details.

Buller River is expected to peak in the early hours of the morning and Civil Defence controller Douglas Marshall said the full impact of the rain was yet to be felt.

Some streets are flooding because stormwater cannot drain into the Orowaiti River, which is also running high.

Staff will be up all night monitoring the situation.

Buller Health had to shift its acute emergency services to the Masonic Lodge after water levels around the facility buildings rose.

An orange heavy rain warning was also in place for Auckland and Northland.

Look back on images and updates from Wednesday's deluge here:

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