Golden Bay homes evacuated as rain batters country

Three Golden Bay households were evacuated overnight as heavy rain continues to batter much of the country.

The Nelson and Tasman regions are bracing for minor damage after the heaviest deluge in 50 years closed roads and made dozens of homes uninhabitable earlier this month.

Nelson Tasman Civil Defence controller Jim Frater said the emergency operations centre sprang into action about 10.30pm yesterday after heavy rain in Golden Bay, particularly the Pohara Valley area, set in about 9pm.

Three houses in the Pohara Valley had to be evacuated, with inhabitants going to the local marae.

"Police were going door to door and checking with people, making sure they're okay, and contractors were out checking drains and so forth,'' Mr Frater told APNZ.

The Pohara camping ground suffered minor flooding, forcing staff to move a few campers and set up sandbags.

Mr Frater said the rain in Golden Bay had eased by 1.30am and the emergency operations centre called it a night.

The Abel Tasman road over the Wainui Hill was closed overnight and contractors would this morning assess whether it could be reopened.

In the Nelson area, Cable Bay Rd, Iwa Rd and Moana Ave were closed yesterday afternoon as a precaution.

They were not expected to reopen until later today at the earliest.

Mr Frater said there had been some minor slips but at this stage there did not appear to be any significant damage.

Contractors have been assessing damage since first light.

The Maitai River in Nelson reached its first alarm level at 6am but it was dropping again as the rain stopped, Mr Frater said.

"We are expecting further heavy rain, which is possibly occurring in Golden Bay at present. It's expected between about 6am and 9am, and in the Nelson and Richmond areas from 9am to midday.''

The weather was then expected to ease to overcast with light showers.

Meanwhile, heavy rain and blustery conditions are setting in around much of the country as ex-cyclone Fina batters the North Island.

The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for Nelson, northern Marlborough, Taranaki and Bay of Plenty.

It said up to 200mm of rain was likely about the hills and ranges over the next few days, with 100mm or more about lower-lying areas.

Significant rain was also expected in northern Northland overnight and in Wellington and Kapiti today.

People were advised to take care on roads and be cautious of rapidly rising rivers.

In Auckland, the Coastguard said three boats were ripped from their moorings due to 35-plus knot winds in the Hauraki Gulf yesterday.

In the Bay of Plenty, the regional council duty flood manager Bruce Crabbe said with heavy rainfall in a short period, rivers and streams would rise quickly.

"We urge visitors that are camping along riverbanks and streams to move to higher ground now,'' he said yesterday.

"Farmers should consider moving stock to higher ground.''

Drivers were also urged to avoid unnecessary travel as conditions deteriorated.

In Waikato, police have been monitoring popular holiday traffic routes and urged motorists to make allowances for the bad weather and allow themselves plenty of time to get to their destination.


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