Marlborough authorities: All flood evacuees can return home

Marlborough authorities say all of the 900 people evacuated in yesterday’s floods will be able to return home today. 

Flooding in Marlborough yesterday after torrential rain. Source: 1 NEWS

All evacuated residents from Tuamarina, Spring Creek and the Lower Wairau can return to their homes from midday. It comes after evacuees from Lower Terrace and Renwick were told at 9am they could go back home. 

Evacuees are being reunited with vehicles stranded along SH1 between Picton and Blenheim. Stranded vehicles will also be removed by Police if the owner cannot be located or the vehicle is damaged.

State Highway 1 including the Wairau River bridge is expected to re-open from midday. SH6 between Renwick and Havelock is not expected to open until mid-afternoon at the earliest.

SH63 is not expected to re-open for some days. Many local roads are still closed.

Up-to-date information about road closures can be found on Waka Kotahi NZTA’s website.

A Marlborough District Council spokesperson told 1 NEWS earlier today there were no additional evacuations overnight after the harsh weather in the region eased. 

He said 60 people were given accommodation at Omaka Marae overnight. 

There have been four breaches of river stop banks since yesterday, but the spokesperson said they were “minor”. 

People are asked to assume all floodwater is contaminated, and to wash their hands in case of contact.

Wairau River levels, which swelled under the heavy rain yesterday, have also reduced. The river overflowed its banks at Renwick, Spring Creek and Tuamarina. 

Marlborough declared a local state of emergency yesterday afternoon as hundreds of properties were battered by the wild weather. Residents in Renwick Lower Terrace and part of Lower Wairau were asked to evacuate as water flowed over stop banks. 

Meanwhile, Buller District Council Mayor Jamie Cleine said his region had done “well overnight” and river levels are starting to recede. 

He said people had been asked to remain in welfare centres until at least mid-morning while assessments are carried out in homes and roads around the town. 

About 2000 Westport residents were evacuated yesterday, with about 1000 people staying at evacuation centres. At least 100 homes have been flooded. 

A heavy rain warning remains in place for Buller, but has been downgraded from a red to an orange warning. 

MetService said people can expect another 50 to 70 mm of rain about the ranges north of Reefton on top of what has already fallen. Peak intensities are expected to reach between 10 to 15 mm an hour. 

The forecaster warned surface flooding and slips are still possible.