A river runs through city – Nelson surveys damage and clean-up ahead

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Flood damage in Nelson
Flood damage in Nelson when a state of emergency was declared in the city this week. Montage: RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Residents of Nelson in Aotearoa New Zealand’s South Island are cleaning up and counting the cost of flood damage across the region, while authorities work to fix roads, clear slips and rebuild infrastructure.

More than 400 homes had to be evacuated over the past few days after the Maitai River burst its banks and a state of emergency was declared in Nelson-Tasman and West Coast districts.

RNZ has collated photos showing some of that destruction caused by this week’s “weather bomb”.

Nelson’s mayor Rachel Reece said: “it will take years, not months” for the city to recover.

The overflowing Oldham Stream in Atawhai caused a footbridge to collapse, splintering the stream to the playground on one side, and through a neighbour’s property on the other.

An Atawhai local person edging on the overflowing Oldham Creek said the pedestrian bridge collapsed yesterday and the build up of debris had sent water gushing either direction, flooding their properties.

His neighbour, who lives next to the creek, evacuated yesterday.

Worried about high tide
He said they were worried for what might happen once high tide comes back, the forecasted downpour later today, and if more debris piles up.

Other locals that spoke to RNZ said they had never had flooding like this.

Either side of the bridge is a park and a cycle track. A pump track, fundraised by the local community, is ruined.

Meanwhile traffic has piled up from Atawhai into Nelson as multiple slips block parts of State Highway 6 — the only connection road for Atawhai.

A state of emergency was also declared in Marlborough, with more heavy rain expected to fall on the water-saturated region overnight.

Mayor John Leggett said it would ensure the emergency response team had the resources it needed to support communities affected by heavy rain.

In the capital Wellington, the ongoing heavy rain caused multiple landslips.

Wellington City Council said more than 40 incidents were reported around the city today, on top of about 20 incidents yesterday.

Residents in the Far North in New Zealand said the heavy rain, wild weather and flooding has been the worst for a long time.

Kaeo had been hard hit, with the road leading out of town still closed and parts of the region were effectively cut off.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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