Floods shut down Wellington

Flooding in Wellington saw many roads being closed. Photo: Facebook
Flooding in Wellington saw many roads being closed. Photo: Facebook

Wellington came to a standstill on Thursday as heavy rainfall caused road closures, and left one person dead.

Dr Paul Hill, 80, was found dead in floodwaters around Thursday lunchtime.

Police swam to his submerged car, but later found his body 20 metres away in Sladden Park, near Bracken Street.

The day started with a slip on State Highway 1 on the Kapiti Coast, forcing police to turn around many commuters who had to find alternative routes to work, or go back home.

Rainfall recorded between 8am and 2pm on Thursday indicated Kapiti received 32mm (with 15.6mm falling between 9am and 10am), Lower Hutt 76mm (48mm between 11am and noon), Porirua 45mm, Upper Hutt 39mm and Wellington 19mm.

Parts of Kapiti received more rain in 24 hours than it did on average for the whole of May.

As flood waters rose, thousands of commuters were stranded in Wellington as Tranz Metro cancelled all of the trains, with no bus replacements until at least Friday afternoon.

At one stage SH2 from Ngauranga to Melling was closed Northbound, SH2 from Melling to Petone was closed Southbound and SH2 from Petone to Ngauranga was open Southbound.

Many commuters tried leaving work early ahead of further road closures, but found themselves in very slow-moving traffic.

Commuters took to Facebook to share pictures of themselves in traffic, with one user saying it took her two hours to get from Lower Hutt to Silverstream (usually a 15 – 20 minute commute). A reader told Stuff.co.nz: “My colleagues left work in CBD at 2pm and reached home at 8pm in Lower Hutt.”

Porirua Railway Station was flooded, creating a mucky pool from the platform down into the subway tunnel. Police were called to cordon off the area after teenagers filmed themselves jumping into the filthy flood water.

In Lower Hutt, the Hutt River burst its banks, and people parked in the Riverbank carpark were advised to move their cars.

Block Road was also closed off due to rising river levels.

Reports said Wellington Girls’ College was closed after it was struck by lightning. Principal Julia Davidson refuted this, telling Newstalk ZB   that the students were sent home due to the flooding.

What does Friday have in store for Wellington?

All State Highway roads are open, but the New Zealand Transport Agency advises against any unnecessary travel.

Tranz Metro: All services are cancelled until further notice. There are no bus replacements.

Avoid peak hours and work from home if you can. There will be lots of clean up still taking place. More rain is on the way.

MetService has issued another severe weather watch for the region, and further south. It warns of the possibility of burst of heavy rain for parts of the lower North Island, and South to Southwest gales for Wellington, coastal Wairarapa, Banks Peninsula, and the Kaikoura coast.

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Georgia Dunstan-Brown
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