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The cleanup begins

The recovery effort has begun in Tinui, as locals sweep layers of mud from homes, shops, and the local school.

Wairarapa community and rural sergeant Steve Cameron – who had just spent three days helping the Castlepoint community get through the worst of the storm – took the Times-Age to Tinui to
assess the damage yesterday.

Upper Hutt Community Rescue, The New Zealand Defence Force, Emergency Operations Centre, and residents gathered at the Tinui Hall ahead of a tough day.

They then spent hours scraping layers of silt off floors and recovering whatever items they could.

Tinui resident Bill Laing said yesterday was the first chance for people to get in and begin to clean up the town.

Ray and Nicky Moffatt’s Tinui Rd home was one of about 20 ruined by deep flood waters.

Ray Moffatt said he was prepared for rain and flooding, but nothing like what ripped through their house.

The water reached the top of the Moffatt’s mezzanine floor, dragged cars down the river, and swept away five sheep, drowning them. The Moffatt’s family cat is also missing.

Moffatt said his neighbour Matt Mansell had come over to help as the rain fell, and they both found themselves in waist-deep water within 20 minutes.

“I struggled to get the family out, but we managed it. It was chaos from then on.”

He said he was grateful for everyone’s help: “The army boys have been really good.”

Back in Tinui’s township, local legends Pat Gray, Riki Pureau, and Dennis Bakker recounted rescuing a woman out of her window as floodwaters surrounded her home.

Gray said he was out in a kayak when he heard the woman yelling from her window, and returned with Pureau and Bakker to rescue her.

“It took a lot longer to get back. We got out in a rip and taken out into the paddock.”

The woman is now recovering in hospital.

Castlepoint Hotel and Guesthouse site host Lou Brooks said she had put up four people who had been made homeless.

Only two people were still staying with Brooks yesterday, as several long-term residents were stuck in Masterton.

Tinui School principal Simon Couling said metre-deep flood water came “screaming” through the school, damaging a significant amount of resources and documents.

“We’ve been absolutely devastated by it.”

Almost 50 students will be attending school from the play centre and other local facilities from next week, Couling said.

“It won’t be flash, but it’ll be good classroom learning.”

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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