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Whanganui, Rangitikei prepare for flooding

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/04/2017

Two central North Island councils, Whanganui and Rangitikei, have declared a state of emergency ahead of possible serious flooding on Wednesday.

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall says the declaration will give residents in the affected areas of his district time to evacuate.

The remnants of Tropical Cylone Debbie have begun to wash over New Zealand and Mr McDouall says Horizons Regional Council hydrologists have advised that "a significant flood event" could be on the way.

"The modelling - and it is only modelling, that's my caution - suggests that the peak levels at Pipiriki, which is one of our gauges, will be about 17.7 metres," he said on Tuesday.

That would be 2.7 metres higher than the flood that struck the district in 2015.

Mr McDouall said the peak was predicted to be at 1pm, which meant Whanganaui would be "very vulnerable" from 7pm to about midnight.

"In fact, we're being a bit more conservative," he said.

"We're saying that from about midday tomorrow, people in Anzac Parade, Taupo Quay and Pipiriki should be evacuated from their homes."

In neighbouring Rangitikei, the council said rain levels could reach the same as during the devastating flood that struck 13 years ago.

The Tutaenui stream was expected to be at a similar height to 2004 in the early hours of Wednesday and affected residents would be evacuated on Tuesday night.

There were likely to be evacuations at Whangaehu and Turakina on Wednesday.

The MetService said the heavy downpours that were already drenching many places were expected to continue to Thursday.

The biggest falls were forecast for Northland to Whanganui, the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, the central plateau, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and the Kaikoura Coast.

Rainfall totals could exceed 200mm in some areas, the MetService said.

There was also potential for thunderstorms and downpours with hourly rainfall rates of 25mm to 35mm, or possibly more.

The Fire Service in both the northern and central regions said it had had some call-outs to flooding.

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