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NZ hammered by remnants of Cyclone Debbie

dpa logodpa 6/04/2017 Jule Scherer

The New Zealand town of Edgecumbe has been evacuated and a state of emergency declared after the aftermath of cyclone Debbie hammered the region.

A New Zealand town has been evacuated after floodwaters surged through its streets in a "one-in-a-500-year event" in the wake of a weather system that was cyclone Debbie.

"Evacuations in Edgecumbe are largely complete following stop bank breaches," the Bay of Plenty Regional Council said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

The 2000 inhabitants of the township in the northeast of the North Island, were evacuated by jetboats, farm vehicles and a school bus, Radio New Zealand reported.

Mayor Tony Bonne told the national radio station the flooding was a "one-in-a-500-year event".

"There's water halfway up people's windows. There are houses that will just be a huge write-off," local Brandon Crowley, who captained one of the jetboats that helped the stranded, told news service Newshub.

"There was a big community effort as far as the boats went. We were working together as a team as much as we could, to do what we could," he said.

Since arriving in New Zealand on Tuesday, the weather system that was cyclone Debbie has brought massive amounts of rain across much of the country.

The region around Edgecombe recorded more than two months' worth of rain over a two-day period, the Metservice said in a statement.

The weather system is now moving south, continuing to cause havoc. The South Island town of Kaikoura, badly damaged in a magnitude-7.8 earthquake in November, has already been cut off after rain caused mudslides that blocked a highway, the national Transport Agency said.

However, the country's meteorological service reported that the worst of the rain was over.

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