‘Like waking up in a river’

DISASTER: Many families, like the Hensons, woke to find extensive flooding on their property, a lot of damage and dead livestock floating by. Times photo Wayne Martin

Tuesday night was a standard one for Grant Henson and his family. Like most of us, he went to bed listening to the rain pound on the roof.

Just a few hours later at 5.45am, he and his wife woke up to thigh-deep water outside their house. Drowned sheep were floating past, the rain was continuing to pour and it was the beginning of a five hour “adventure”, Mr Henson said, recalling it was “like waking up in a river”.

Mr Henson and his wife woke their four children – a 7-month-old, 3-year-old, 11-year-old and a 12-year-old – and rescued his dogs from the shed where they were shut in and waited to be rescued.

Rescue came in the form of their landlords chevy dodge truck but at a cost – the truck was completely written off in the rescue as the water damaged the engine.

The next day, Mr Henson returned to the property with a friend and surveyed the damage.
While the house itself remained dry, the shed was a write off.

Mr Henson estimates around $10,000 of equipment was ruined by the flood, but the memories lost in the flood will be harder to replace. He said they lost memorabilia and “a couple of old laptops which needed to be fixed and had memories of our older children on them.”

Three vehicles were also damaged beyond repair by the water and while the Hensons had vehicle insurance, they didn’t have contents insurance.

In a silver lining, community spirit has shone through. The house on Clevedon-Kawakawa Road is currently uninhabitable and the Henson family is living in a granny flat on offer from local residents until next Wednesday.

Contacts from the local church where Mr Henson’s wife takes their children to playgroup three times a week have come to the rescue with donations of dinners, groceries, supermarket vouchers and offers of temporary accommodation.

“We haven’t had to cook a meal since the flood…people are awesome,” said Mr Henson.

A Givealittle page had also been created by a friend which Mr Henson said at last count had raised around $3500.

Watercare is calling for Auckland residents to continue to reduce their water usage to avoid a city-wide boil water notice being issued.

Last week’s “off-the-chart” rainfall washed large amounts of debris into the Ardmore Water Treatment Plant, which supplies up to two thirds of the Auckland region’s water.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said the plant is continuing to operate at half its capacity due to the “unprecedented” level of silt in the water.

Auckland residents had successfully reduced their water usage with total consumption falling to below 400 million litres.

But the sunny weather may have lulled some into false security with water consumption levels rising again rapidly.

There are warnings it will take a while for the water supply to be back to normal, with the Ardmore plant water clarity still 100 times worse than it should be.

Residents are being asked to reduce their water use by 20 litres per day until the end of March.

MP for Hunua Andrew Bayly said in a statement around 10 houses had flooded in Kawakawa Bay, Ness Valley, Clevedon and Head Rd, Hunua with the evacuation of seven families required.

The Kawakawa Bay kindergarten flooded and will remain closed for at least the remainder of the week and the Hunua Bowling club had also flooded.

Mr Bayly said there were also concerns about the bridge on Head Rd, Hunua which Civil Defence have inspected.

Water saving tips

  • Turn off the tap as you brush your teeth
  • Wait until there is a full load before turning on the dishwasher or washing machine
  • Water your garden in the early morning or evening to minimise evaporation. – For maximum efficiency, install trickle irrigation – otherwise, use the hose, rather than a sprinkler
  • Washing your car, boat or dog? Use a bucket – and do it on the lawn, rather than on the driveway

    The water savings apply to everyone living in homes as far north as Waiwera and as far south as Pukekohe.

  • Were you affected by the floods? Email kellyt@times.co.nz