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12 hours: One month of rain

Surface flooding on Chapel St at 10am on Tuesday. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

The wet, the wild, and the ugly
Streets flooded, families were stuck at home, and toxic algae washed away when heavy rainfall soaked Wairarapa on Tuesday morning SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI reports.

A month’s worth of November rain was dumped on Masterton over 12 hours on Tuesday.

About 72mm of rain fell from midnight to noon on Tuesday, compared with a monthly average of 74mm for November.

Tinui resident Sandy Mitchell was stuck at home with her husband and daughter when the bridge providing access across the Whareama River to their property was flooded.

A neighbouring family who shared the bridge and driveway was also home-bound.

“It’s fully submerged. You can’t see it,” Mitchell said.

The bridge occasionally flooded when rainfall was heavy, though this was the first time it had happened this year.

“It does get close at times,” she said, “we sit up here and watch baleage float down the river.”

The strangest item she had seen floating down the river after a downpour was a stray jetboat.

The two houses were situated uphill from the bridge and were not at risk of flooding.

The public road ended about 20 metres before the bridge, so did not fall under council responsibility.

However, Mitchell was not too fazed by having to stay home for the day.

“Although, it does actually mean that our daughter has missed her last day of college,” she said.

“We can see the main road, and we can see the people on it, and the mailbox, we just can’t get to it!”

Masterton District Council spokesman Steve Rendle said 72mm of rain had fallen from midnight to noon on Tuesday, which filled many streams and stormwater drains.

Flooding at Wavell Cres, Lansdowne. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

More than 50 service requests were logged by the council’s call centre.

Portable toilets were provided to five properties in Kuripuni where toilets could not be flushed.

South Wairarapa District Council spokeswoman Amy Wharram said they had had reports of isolated flooding events.

Carterton District Council spokeswoman Elisa Vorster said they had only had one service request about a blocked drain, but council staff were “actively on the streets unblocking sumps and any drains they see that are starting to back up”.

At midday on Tuesday, Metservice meteorologist Andy Best said the highest total rainfall in the past 24 hours had been on the East Coast at Akitio, which had received 121mm of rain.

Ngawi and Masterton airport received 65mm in the same period, while 70mm had fallen on the Tararua Range.

Castlepoint had been slightly less inundated with 48mm and the Remutaka summit had the lightest rainfall with 40mm.

Conditions were already easing around midday, however.

A heavy rain warning was in place until 11am.

Southerlies were set to gradually ease yesterday. The forecast for today and tomorrow showed fine weather, with a northwesterly picking up tomorrow.

Best expected a high of 16 degrees Celsius yesterday, dropping to five degrees overnight.

“It will be a cooler night with those northwesterlies starting to develop,” Best said. “After Wednesday, really it’s quite a nice four days until and including the weekend.”

The heavy rain was not unusual for this time of year, he said.

“Spring is quite a changeable season and heavy rain can happen.”

Greater Wellington Regional Council spokesman Stephen Heath said there were no issues with river levels. The water volume was also likely to wash out the toxic algae, reported by Wairarapa Times-Age on Saturday, in Waipoua River.

“The measurement we use is ‘beyond six times median flow we become 99 per cent confident of the removal of algae.

“It’s gone beyond that now, so we are confident that it’s been washed away.”

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president David Hayes said while farmers had been concerned given the serious situation in Napier, Wairarapa rivers had not flooded.

They had taken a precautionary approach and moved stock from low ground, however.

“In terms of the spring, rain is good. We did have that drought through autumn last year and during covid.”

While heavy rain meant farmers who were ready to crop would need to put their plans on hold, soil moisture levels had been low and Tuesday’s rainfall would help to moisten the earth in preparation for summer.

“A good solid rain like this is a good thing in the long term,” Hayes said.

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