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Evacuations in Waikato after stopbank breaches

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 15/04/2017
Piako River. © Photo: GoogleMaps Piako River.

Police said a small number of homes near the Piako River are evacuating after a stopbank breached near Patetonga in the Paeroa-Tahuna Road and Awaiti Road areas.

They are asking motorists to avoid the area. Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga said the area has been flooded before and as many as eight farm houses surrounded by water had been evacuated.

The area is designed to allow for water ponding, but the recent extreme rainfall means more water has entered the ponding zones than in recorded history.

Mr Tregidga said the water was still rising and the floodwaters were getting close to evacuated houses on Tramline Road. Motorists are asked to avoid travel in the area.

A Waikato farmer who evacuated this morning after a nearby river flooded his property said he had never seen anything like it.

Ian Troughton, who evacuated around 10 people from his farm, said about 200 hectares was underwater and the water was rising quickly.

"I just made the call earlier today, that the speed that the water was coming up, it was no use waiting until things get dangerous, we just made the call that we needed to act and if it gets better quickly well that's fine, but if it doesn't well we've got everybody safe."

Mr Troughton said it was the worst flooding he had seen in the 25 years that he had been in the area.

Waikato Regional Council said yesterday it was seeing record water levels in several rivers on the Hauraki Plain.

The Waitoa and Piako rivers were the highest they have been since records began in the 1980s.

There has been flooding, road closures and power outages throughout much of the North Island since Cyclone Cook hit the country on Thursday.

That weather system also prompted evacuations.

And the entire town of Edgecumbe was evacuated last week when a stopbank on the Rangitāiki River burst, letting in a wall of water that inundated the town.

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