Friday, July 24, 2009

Bit of a soggy evening

So it rained yesterday... a lot.

I got out of a climate change workshop at Wellington City Council around 4pm, and it was pissing down. Drove back to Porirua with the windscreen wipers going full speed. Was planning to give a talk to PORSE later in the evening, so figured I'd stop by home to get my wet weather gear before continuing back to the office to prepare. While I was home I noticed that the Porirua Stream was getting close to it's 2-year flood levels. It had definitely been raining a lot.

We've been trying to establish what the stream guage level is on the Horokiri Stream when it floods Greys Road, so I figured it was prime time to see if the road was flooded yet, and I had time before my meeting.

First clue that things were worse than I thought was when the surface flooding was almost completely across both lanes outside McDonalds on Kenepuru Drive. Hit the motorway out to Paremata, and around Paremata Road there was quite a bit of surface flooding. Rang that in to the call centre. Carried on through to Pauatahanui, and discovered water pouring across the road in the village. Never seen that before! Did a quick recon of Greys road, and rang through requesting that the signs be put up for flooding, or close the road entirely - too many people end up in the ditch after missing the edge of the submerged road. Then out to Flightys Road, the bridge hadn't gone under yet, but I was asked what time high tide was. Good question. Unfortunately, low tide had just passed around 4 pm, so the tide was rising in addition to the rain falling. Joy...

Back to Pauatahanui, and started door knocking to make sure people weren't having too many problems. People had moved livestock to higher ground, one person had to relocate their rabbits, a restaurant had a pump running to keep the water out, others had streams pouring down their paths, knee deep water to the front door, septic tanks overflowing, water getting into garages and sheds. Some complete moron with a trailer overtook a sensible driver who had slowed down to make their way through the surface flooding...

By the time I made it to the other end of Pauatahanui Village, State Highway 58 was closed as the roundabout was underwater, and there were slips up towards the top of Haywards Hill and down the Hutt side. State Highway 1 was also closed at Pukerua Bay due to a slip, so I headed out there to see what was going on. Couldn't get past Mana due to the traffic, so I spent some time talking to people at the traffic lights, explaining what the problem was. With Paekakariki Hill Road also closed, the only way out of the Porirua Basin was to head south towards Wellington.

After that it was back out to Flightys road where the bridge was now completely underwater, and then along State Highway 58 to see where it was blocked - basically all the gravel from the roadworks where they had been widening the road had been scoured out and dumped across the road. They had just about finished clearing that section when I left.

Thankfully the rain had stopped falling around 7ish, but because of the incoming tide it was some time before the waters started to recede. The SH58 roundabout had cleared by the time I got back from Haywards, and things were beginning to look normal when I headed back to the office at about 9.30.

The EOC had been busy with people who had come in to help, and those who couldn't make it home due to closed roads. Our call centre had been up & running, and our roading & drainage crews had been busy busy - saw some of them standing in thigh deep water watching a foot-wide vortex above a drain they'd just unblocked. We eventually called quits about 10pm. A rather long day for everyone, I expect.

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