West Coast weather: More than 100 evacuated as 1m of rainfall recorded in some areas over past days

Roads are closed and more than 100 people have been evacuated in the West Coast, after some areas recorded up to a metre of rain over the past three-and-a-half days.

Fifteen people were rescued from floodwaters on the West Coast last night, with about 100 staying in evacuation centres in the region.

The red warnings in place for the West Coast region finished at 1am, and MetService Meteorologist Dan Corrigan said rainfall had subsided.

He said an “extraordinary amount of rain” had fallen over the past few days, with acummulations of up to a metre in some areas.

“If we look at the Buller region, up in the ranges and the headwaters of the Buller region, we’ve seen upwards of 500mm during this heavy rain event.

“Looking further south in the Westland District, the largest accumulations we saw was upwards of 1000mm, so a metre of rain.”

Westport had recorded 285mm and Hokitika 202mm throughout the weather event, which began on Tuesday night.

“Heavier accumulations have been falling about higher ground and all of that rain has to go somewhere, it drains into the rivers and that causes those rivers to rise really rapidly,” Corrigan said.

Multiple roads, including State Highway 76, are closed in the region due to surface flooding and slips, and Buller Emergency management is urging people not to drive or walk through the flood water.

State Highway 67 from Waimangaroa to Granity is closed due to surface water.
Stevens Road has surface water in some areas, which have been coned off.

Buller District Council says water may have washed away parts of the road, and may contain debris.

People should treat all flood water as contaminated and unsafe and should stay away from flooded areas.

With many evacuated from the area overnight, including 15 rescued by helicopter, Controller Al Lawn said last night it was too early to tell when people could return home.

About 100 people were staying at the Buller Emergency Operations Centre and the Holcim evacuation facility on Cape Foulwind Rd.

Lawn said anyone who felt unsafe staying in their home could still move to their local evacuation centre, and people unable to self-evacuate safely should call 111, he said.

He commended 10 people who self-evacuated from Seddonville in the Buller District last night, saying they were sensible to move early.

Fire and emergency southern shift manager Simon Lyford said there had surprisingly been no weather-related callouts overnight in relation to the flooding.

With the rain band now moving up to the Marlborough, Wellington and Kāpiti regions, residents in these areas are now under a heavy rain watch.

Golden Bay residents are being warned to treat all surface water as possibly contaminated.

Heavy rain continues to fall across the top of the South Island.

Tasman District Council says large quantities of water are inundating parts of the wastewater system.

Spokesman Darryn Palmer says it means pumping stations around the bay are struggling to cope with the high volumes passing through them.

There have been reports of numerous places where wastewater has overflowed. People are urged to avoid contact with any flood waters until they subside.

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