It was a wild week last week as the weather ran rampant across the country. The North Island took the brunt of the rain, with areas in the Coromandel, and east Franklin flooding and slips blocking roads. Over the weekend, the rain turned to west Auckland and Rotorua.
Metservice issued several warnings throughout the week and over the weekend, advising people to be vigilant. Emergency services encouraged people not to drive unless necessary. The weather watch has since been lifted.
Emergency services were kept busy. Rainfall for Auckland typically ranges from 75mm to 110mm in March, but in some places, more than 100mm fell within 24 hours, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). This included 27.6mm of rainfall between 5pm and 6pm on Friday 10 March, equal to Auckland's wettest March hour since 1965, when records began.
The rain started on Tuesday night, with students and teachers at YMCA's Camp Adair waking up to flood waters lapping at the door. More than 200 were evacuated at around 7am on Wednesday 8 March. The same day, at Hunua Falls Camp, 150 people were evacuated, with a road having to be cleared before they could leave.
The Clevedon fire department received 12 calls during the night, and rescued two police officers on Clevedon-Kawakawa Bay Road, whose car had been swept away. They also had to remove another car that had also been submerged in the flood waters. The Beachlands Maraetai fire crew had 26 phone calls from midnight Tuesday.
Elsewhere in eastern Franklin, flooding and slips caused blockages, with many people landlocked and stuck in their homes. In Papakura and Clevedon severe inland flooding closed roads and affected stormwater mains. The Fire Service and Auckland Council were called to evacuated at least one property.
In Kawakawa Bay, 15 houses were affected by flooding, with slips on Turei Hill preventing people from getting out. The Fire service went door to door to ensure residents were okay.
Significant flooding in Beachlands made roads impassable. Two vehicles that had tried to drive through the floodwaters had to be rescued.
Many of the roads were opened by the afternoon, but were down to one lane, and for four-wheel drive vehicles only.
Due to the flooding and slips, the regional parks in Auckland, including Hunua Ranges Regional Park and Duder Regional Park were closed.
Farmers in the area had to rescue cattle and stock who had been trapped by the sudden floods. Some stock were still loose on Thursday 9 March, but most farmers had retrieved their stock. There was significant loss of silage bales which went floating down the rivers, and widespread slips ruined many fences.
The Beachland's wastewater treatment station was working but Kawakawa Bay treatment station was not operational.
On Thursday 9 March, MP for Hunua, Andrew Bayly spent the day visiting affected areas. He reported that no one was in trouble, but several Kawakawa Bay residents were blocked in by a large slip.
Roads were largely cleared although most only had one lane open. Power was restored to the houses that had lost it.
Andrew Bayly said, "It is essential that everyone continues to look out for their neighbours and keeps safe. Everyone is doing such a fantastic job."
In the Hunua Ranges, the Cossey Dam and other dams in the Hunua ranges were close to full on Thursday.
The rain continued to fall over the weekend, with former market gardener Alan Wilcox phoning us to share his experience.
Alan thought that the Post readers may be interested in how much rain fell at his son's property on Sunday 12 March.
During the time he spent visiting (an hour and 15 minutes) a total of 58mm had fell.
"Having been in the market garden industry for many years, this type of rainfall causes so many problems for gardeners. The rain that we had on Sunday has caused so much erosion on the land, which I believe is too steep to be used as gardens. Luckily the growers had harvested their onion crops two weeks ago, as hundreds and thousands of vegetables would have been washed away. I have seen that happen before and onions do float quite nicely," he said.
Reminder to keep water usage down
After the heavy rain throughout the week, Aucklander's have been asked to cut down on their water usage by 20 litres per person per day. The main water treatment plant at Ardmore has been swamped with silt and debris from the heavy rain. This means the plant can only process the water at half the normal rate.
Yesterday Watercare announced that Aucklanders had used 390 million litres of water, which was below the recommended 400 million litres. However, they say it needs to be sustained until the end of the month, otherwise they may have to release untreated water into the system and issue a region-wide boil-water notice.
“Our Save 20 target is easily achievable,” says Watercare Chief Executive Raveen Jaduram. “To put it in perspective, it’s only a few minutes less in the shower and turning off the tap when brushing teeth.”
“Ardmore Water Treatment Plant, which supplies up to two thirds of the Auckland region’s water, is continuing to operate at half its capacity due to an unprecedented level of silt in the water coming from the Hunua dams.
“We are maximising production at our four other metropolitan plants which include those in Waikato and Huia."
Waikato are also monitoring their water treatment sites.