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Flooding hell

Flooding on the outskirts of Martinborough. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

… and there’s more rain to come

A heavy rain watch remained in place for Wairarapa’s hill country yesterday after heavy flowing rivers closed access into Martinborough on Monday.

MetService said rainfall could approach warning criteria and would last until 7am yesterday morning.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] said the Ponatahi bridge over Huangarua river closed at noon on Monday.

It said access in and out of Martinborough was still possible over SH53 using the Waihenga bridge and Longbush Rd.

SWDC said there was “considerable” flooding and slips around the district because the ground was already heavily saturated.

“Drivers, especially those returning home in the dark, are urged to be very careful as you may find it difficult to spot flooded areas. Stay safe and drive to the conditions.”

SWDC said its team of roading contractors had halved because of covid-19 and the flu.

“Our roading teams are very stretched. Only two of our four Ruamahanga Roads team members are on deck. “

It said its contractor, Fulton Hogan, was working as fast as they could to keep up, but they also had staff absences because of illness.

SWDC said the very high amount of rain it was experiencing this winter was stressing its roading network.

“The ground is completely saturated in many parts of the region and unable to absorb the deluge.

“This has led to many areas experiencing flooding and slips.”

It said it was concentrating its resources on high-priority responses, including the Hinakura Rd rebuild, Admiral Hill route maintenance, Boar Bush Gully Road slip, the 5 Rivers Medical footpaths, and Cape Palliser Rd repairs.

SWDC said it was also working on slips, fallen trees, surface flooding, and cracked roads and footpaths.

It said work under way, and lack of staff, left “little time available” for planned and routine work.

“We appreciate it is frustrating for the public not to see routine work being progressed.

“We hope to get back to a more normal work programme once we get through August.”

A Carterton District Council [CDC] spokesperson said council had offered its support to SWDC, but the offer had not been accepted as of 3pm on Monday.

The spokesperson said that if CDC needed to deliver work outside of scope of its maintenance contract, it would engage a suitable contractor.

“At this stage there are only two staff members away sick, and we have offered support to South Wairarapa during their absence.

“They are yet to take us up on this offer.”

The bad weather looks to continue through the week with temperatures expected to drop to sub-zero lows for Saturday and Sunday.

MetService said Masterton would reach a high of 10 degrees Celsius and a low of three degrees Celsius yesterday.

Today, temperatures are expected to drop to a high of 9 degrees Celsius and a low of two degrees Celsius.

Tomorrow is set to be cloudy and showery with morning frost and southerlies. Temperatures are expected to lower to a high of 8 degrees Celsius and a low of one degree Celsius.

MetService said Friday would have a high of 9 degrees Celsius and a freezing low of -2 degrees Celsius.

The low of -2 would remain for the weekend with a high of 11 degrees Celsius on Saturday and 13 degrees Celsius on Sunday.

[SWDC did not respond to questions about hiring more roading staff by the time of publication.]

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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