Rain continues in New Zealand after storm forces hundreds to evacuate

The stormy weather saw some schools close, airlines cancel flights and businesses shut.

Men walk in the rain with umbrellas
Men walk in the rain with umbrellas

Heavy rain continued to pelt New Zealand on Thursday, causing further disruptions and road closures from a storm that has already forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

Residents in the northern part of North Island found themselves isolated after landslides, fallen trees and floodwaters blocked highway access. The stormy weather also forced some schools to close, airlines to cancel flights and business to shutter.

The storm sunk at least one sailboat near Auckland and caused a home to slip down into a gully in the town of Tahunanui, at the top of the South Island.

Tahunanui Beach
A house at Tahunanui slipped down a gully due to the rain (Alamy/PA)

About 230 homes in the town of Nelson, also at the top of the South Island, were evacuated on Wednesday and remained off-limits overnight after the Maitai River flooded. The military patrolled the area overnight.

Resident Robin Reichert told news outlet Stuff that she was “utterly shocked” when her street turned into a raging torrent.

“Within minutes it’s a river,” she said. “That’s how fast it happens.”

Another 160 homes in the town of Westport, on the South Island’s West Coast, were also temporarily evacuated with residents later allowed to return.

The Buller River dredge at work on a sunny day in Westport, New Zealand
The mayor of Buller (town pictured) has warned further rain is on the way (Alamy/PA)

Roads throughout the nation were closed due to flooding and landslides.

In the West Coast’s Buller region, mayor Jamie Cleine told reporters that the rain had so far been lower than forecast but there was more on the way.

“Right across the district I believe we have got away relatively unscathed,” Cleine said.

“A few people that did choose to self-evacuate last night have been told today that it’s reasonably safe, if they feel OK, to head back to their properties today to check them out while we have this lull.”

Mr Cleine warned that more rain was forecast.

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