Updated 9:21pm Thurs — An elderly man has died in flooding in Wellington today as torrential rain and slips caused transport chaos and cut the city off from nearby communities.
As rivers and streams burst their banks, roads, homes and businesses in Kapiti, Porirua and the Hutt Valley were seriously flooded in many areas.
Police said the man’s body was found near a car submerged in water, with its keys in the ignition, in the Lower Hutt suburb of Petone.
The man was found late this afternoon, hours after his car was found near Sladden Park, Bracken St.
Police said officers searched the area and found the man’s body in flooded water near his vehicle.
There were no suspicious circumstances relating to his death.
Police said they were working to notify next of kin and the death had been referred to the coroner.
Meanwhile, police said all motorists should take extra care and expect delays as conditions were “still treacherous with extensive flooding in many areas” around Wellington.
Police working through the night
Police said they would work diligently through the night to ensure the safety and wellbeing of communities affected by the Wellington floods and stormy weather.
They said police and other agencies would continue to monitor the situation overnight and had contingency plans in place ahead of tomorrow.
“We can also reassure the community that we have sufficient resources in place to respond to any other events.”
Drivers have been advised to stay off Kapiti and Hutt Valley roads this evening wherever possible. Motorists were also asked to reconsider their normal commuting patterns ahead of tomorrow.
“We encourage motorists who may be planning their commute to work in the morning to think twice and use alternative transport if available.”
Members of the public should call 111 if they had concerns for their safety.
More disruption for Friday am commuters
Civil Defence staff said more disruption was expected for commuters tomorrow morning.
Wellington Region Emergency Management group controller Bruce Pepperell said commuters planning to travel within the region tomorrow should consider alternatives to their usual morning commute.
Train services would be suspended until at least midday tomorrow, which was likely to result in road congestion.
The New Zealand Transport Agency was advising people to “plan around” congestion and if possible work from home, travel outside of peak times, or commute on foot or bike.
Mr Pepperell said Wellingtonians handled today’s flooding and subsequent disruptions admirably.
“The weather has resulted in some inconvenience but it has been a great opportunity for people to put into practice their emergency arrangements and check what works,” he said.
“We had four emergency welfare centres operating on the Kapiti Coast and two centres in central Wellington. The fact that they were not needed is testament to the way people have rallied together and looked after themselves and each other.”