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Two missing as house falls in storm

Two people are missing after a house collapsed at Onetangi, on Waiheke Island, as tropical cyclone Wilma battered the upper North Island overnight.

The house collapsed after being hit by a large slip and is one of more than 200 incidents keeping emergency services in the region busy.

The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, and Gisborne for heavy rain through to about midday.

Severe gales were also predicted to hit Northland and Great Barrier Island overnight.

The worst-hit areas include Kaeo, about 30 minutes northwest of Kerikeri, where four people were rescued from their home after waters rose three metres and the back of their house started to slide away. The family had to use a candle to signal to firefighters who picked them up in a rescue boat.

A number of those residents have been evacuated to the local rugby club.

At Pipiwai, north-west of Whangarei, two people scrambled up trees to escape the rising waters.

Elsewhere, four people were rescued from a car in Whakapara after it got stuck in flood water, firefighters rescued a pair of people who were clinging on to logs to keep afloat on SH1 at Okaihau, a landslide crashed into a house in Stanmore bay and properties at Waihi Beach and Riverside in Whangarei have been evacuated.

Flooding has also blocked the main road linking Northland with the rest of the North Island; SH1 is closed through the Dome Valley.

Other road closures included SH11 at Opua and SH1 and 11 between Moerewa and Kerikeri.

The Waitotara Bridge has been washed away meaning there is no access to Whangarei Heads in Northland.

Auckland Civil Defence Controller Clive Manly says there are numerous other road closures and slips.

“There’s about 1,000 properties out of power. We have had five reports of houses being flooded and one of them has been impacted by a slip.”

Military vehicles are being used to access places where flooding has closed roads.

The severe weather is now heading towards Rotorua and the Coromandel. Surface flooding is reported in Tairua, and the Kauaeranga River is expected to burst its banks.

Rainfalls of 100 to 200mm were likely, with rainfall rates possibly reaching 25 to 50mm per hour, which could cause surface or flash flooding, lead to slips and cause rivers and streams to rise quickly.


Derek on 28/01/2011 10:23pm

Firstly great work from WW staff, very much a lack of info from other sources so without your ste we would be completely in the dark on these things. Great maps etc of the situation and also very educational.

Secondly, what happened to the winds, here on our patch in Woodside Whangarei the rain was immense, never seen so much of the stuff, river at back on Tarawera park was really way up and running at the highest I have seen it in 18yrs. But no winds, was busy with a losing battle trying to keep out washhouse as dry as possible down underneath the house, finally got some respite about 3am so finally went to bed.
So what happened to the winds that were forecast for the area, was quite calm really with just the torrential downpour over several hours.
Am really glad they did not appear as I think the rain was enough.

Guest on 28/01/2011 8:45pm

Fantastic job guys, I was really disappointed with the Metservice offering. They didnt give any early warning and boaties who rely on this should have known much earlier. I normally use the Metservice forecating but yours is now my first choice.

Thank you


Guest on 28/01/2011 7:46pm

Thanks for keeping us up to date. Ngongotaha Fire Service volunteers seem to have been run ragged overnight. Siren woke residents four times between 0000hrs and 0745hrs.
Skies relatively clear overhead (for the moment!) but black clouds gathering to NW. More to come maybe.

Tina on 28/01/2011 7:16pm

Fantastic work overnight Philip and Richard
Other media were quite poor with their coverage but you guys rock!!
Keep up the great work 🙂


PS I hear the 2 missing are now safe and well ?

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