5 May 2016

Porirua turns focus to clean up mode

9:00 pm on 5 May 2016

Porirua is turning to clean-up mode after torrential rain earlier today flooded roads and houses and forced schools to close.

Heavy rain in the Wellington region this morning, after a long period of dry weather, closed schools, flooded roads and at least 14 houses.

The worst of the flooding is now over and the downpour has stopped, leaving the city to turn its focus to cleaning debris and assessing any damage.

Porirua's emergency operations centre was activated earlier today to deal with the flooding, which reached more than a metre deep in some parts of the city.

Watch footage of the Titahi Bay flooding

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said the council had spent a lot of money on storm water infrastructure in part of the city, but admitted more may need to be done.

Roading contractors are checking the area for damage, Trevor Farmer from the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office says.

Porirua School, Paremata School and Mana College were closed, the council said.

One school, Maraeroa, was flooded for the third time this year.

Mr Leggett said the council was aware of the school's problem.

"Like most areas in the country there are hot spots and Maraeroa School is one of them. We've spent quite a lot of time and money on that area and clearly we need to spend more."

Watch the principal of Maraeroa School, Kathleen O'Hare

Porirua Primary School will remain closed tomorrow while an assessment is done of the damage caused by flooding today.

Katrina Casey, from the Ministry of Education, said all other schools in the area were expected to reopen tomorrow.

Porirua School will look to have students back on Monday but may need to find alternative accommodation depending on the results of work tomorrow.

It's the second time the school has been flooded in 12 months.

An elderly woman whose house was flooded was being looked after by welfare officers, Mr Leggett said.

Porirua locals surprised by extent of flooding

Mayor Nick Leggett said the worst flooding was in Titahi Bay, parts of Eastern Porirua and Whitby.

Mr Leggett told Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan the floods had taken Porirua by surprise.

"It was completely unexpected. It was obviously pretty localised to Porirua because we had some reports from other parts of the region, but I just think the rainfall hit us and we've had to deal with it."

He said today's flooding was not as serious as those which hit the city last April.

Fire Service and contractors were working to clear drains and pump the water from the worst affected areas, he said.

"In any situation like this we worry about sewage mixing with storm water, I don't know enough about on the ground yet to understand what the situation is, we'll certainly be assessing that as we go and obviously that'll be a top priority."

Mr Leggett said residents should check the drains in their neighbourhood were clear of leaves and debris if it is safe to do so.

In the Titahi Bay suburb of Porirua, Sheldon Chapman posted video of floodwaters pouring down Dimock Street.

Have you been affected by the flooding? Tell us your story at iwitness@radionz.co.nz.

State Highway 58 from Paremata to Pauatahanui, after closing this morning, is now open with a caution to drivers to take extra care as there is surface flooding.

Titahi Bay resident Brian McGlone speaks to Michael Cropp about this morning's flood.

Other roads which were also closed earlier today are now open.

Tranz Metro warned commuters needed to take care in Paremata, north of Porirua as the subway was closed. Trains were running as normal.

MetService said 50-60mm of rain was expected in the Wellington region between 7am and 1pm, and downpours of 15-25mm per hour were likely.

It also issued a severe weather warning for Kapiti, Nelson and Horowhenua.

Weather woes further north

The weather is also causing havoc further north. Three Palmerston North roads are closed due to surface flooding.

The City Council is asking people to avoid unnecessary driving for the next few hours. Roading contractors are clearing out drains and gutters, and the rain is now easing, the council said in a statement.

Schools in Palmerston North were also affected by flooding but the ministry wasn't aware of any due to be closed tomorrow.

Parents are advised to check their school's website or Facebook page if they're not sure.

Water in Wellington

Wellington City Council said it had also received more than 80 calls about flooding and contractors had been clearing leaves blocking drains.

Conditions are not nearly as severe as in Porirua.

Tawa, which borders Porirua, is the city's worst hit suburb, a Wellington City Council spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Wellington residents could help the situation by clearing leaves from drains in places hit by minor flooding or that looked as though they might flood. However, people were advised to call the council if there was any danger involved.

Surface flooding in Hutt City

Hutt City Council said there was surface flooding on some roads but no major problems associated with the downpour.

Communications manager Selina Simcox said contractors were out clearing drains, and all roads were open.

In Upper Hutt, there was surface water on Eastern Hutt Road and reports of light flooding in some locations but a city council spokesperson said there were no road closures.