Wild weather continues: Person falls in river, bridge swept away

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 8 Nov 2018, 12:57PM
Parts of the South Island are preparing for flooding as heavy rain moves across the region. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Parts of the South Island are preparing for flooding as heavy rain moves across the region. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Wild weather continues: Person falls in river, bridge swept away

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 8 Nov 2018, 12:57PM

Wet weather continues to batter the South Island as a storm moves across the region.

A person's reported to have fallen into a river on the drenched West Coast.

Emergency services and members of the public are scouring the Haupiri River for the missing person.

Greymouth Police are were notified at 8 o'clock this evening.

Civil Defence workers on the West Coast are working around the clock after today's heavy rain, with other rivers in the area threatening to burst their banks.

The Haupiri River runs alongside the Gloriavale Christian Community.

Meanwhile, a bridge near Arthur's Pass has been swept away by floodwater.

NZTA have confirmed Goat Creek Bridge on State Highway 73 is down.

Motorist Jess Dempsey said the weather there has been "absolutely terrible".

She and her husband live in Otira, and discovered the bridge just east of town had been washed out this afternoon.

Another nearby bridge - Kellys Creek - was also flooded, with water covering part of the road.

Goat Creek Bridge was replaced just a few years ago in 2010, after the former timber bridge was deemed to be nearing the end of its life.

A wet and wild weather system has bashed the West Coast, forcing the closure of schools, roads and potentially standing students for the night.

Westland students have managed to make it home after road slips raised the prospect of them being stuck at school overnight. 

Flooding at Deep Creek Road Moana, on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / SuppliedFlooding at Deep Creek Road Moana, on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / Supplied

Ministry of Education deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said eight schools on the West Coast had been closed after flooding.

Casey advised parents to check school early tomorrow or check websites or Facebook pages to see if they will open.

Areas of the coast have been drenched, the Ivory Glacier receiving 391mm of rain - more than Clyde, Cromwell and Alexandra saw in the entire of 2017.

The Hokitika River was threatening to sweep away a campervan parked on one of the braided river's islands.

Westland District Council mayor Bruce Smith said the second alarm for the river had been activated, and there was still another few hundred millimetres of rain forecast.

He says the first alarm is when it hits a level that is considered a flood, the third is extreme and if that goes off they will have some problems "for sure".

Civil Defence has been activated in Westland as heavy rain hammers the West Coast.

The MetService says Hokitika copped more than 800 lightning strikes in a 20-minute period this morning.

Elsewhere, eight schools were closed on the West Coast due to the heavy rain and flooding, the Ministry of Education told the Herald.

The conditions have caused parts of roads on the West Coast to crumble and fall away, forcing the NZ Transport Agency to close main highways.

Flooding at Okuru River on the West Coast. Photo / Kerry Eggeling

Flooding at Okuru River on the West Coast. Photo / Kerry Eggeling

State Highway 6 from Hokitika to Haast and State Highway 73 Arthurs Pass between Arthurs Pass township and Jackson will likely remain closed overnight.

Drivers in the area are being urged by NZTA not to travel unless it is absolutely essential.

MetService meteorologist Gerrit Keyser said at about 11am the highest rainfall totals for the past 12 hours were in Arthur's Pass with 112mm, Mt Cook Village with 102mm, Franz Josef with 81.5mm and Milford with 75mm.

Strong winds were also starting to ramp up about the Canterbury high country, Wellington and southern Wairarapa. Gusts could reach 150km/h in exposed parts of Canterbury, and 130km/h in other affected areas.

The strongest winds recorded so far were 80km/h at a station near Lumsden in Southland, and 65km/h at Le Bons Bay on Banks Peninsula.