May floods ‘a toughday’
It’s not new that Porirua is susceptible to flooding, but what occurred on May 14 was something no-one could have foreseen.
That watery day started out like many other winter days in Porirua – windy and cold, with rain an ever-present threat. When the heavens opened late in the morning, it poured and poured, and before we knew it, we had a 1-in-100 year storm.
The whole region was affected, with roads closed, rivers breaking their banks, public transport hit and businesses flooded out. Schools shut – Tawa School had to use kayaks to ferry staff and students out of the grounds – and farms and sports fields became lakes.
Grays Rd and Paekakariki Hill Rd were closed for many hours.
Between 11am and 11.30am, 1mm of rain fell per minute.
Somewhat ironically, as Porirua’s CBD began to be overrun with water, and cars began floating, a fire broke out in Pember House, forcing it to be evacuated.
The Kapi-Mana News Facebook page became a place where people could post messages and photos relating to affected areas, and we kept Porirua and Tawa residents as updated as we could. The floods and the orcas this month provided the biggest surges in visits and new likes for our Facebook page.
We ran three pages of news on May 19, along with lots of photos, some supplied by our readers.
The rain that fell on May 14 was the most to fall in a single day in Porirua and Tawa since 1976. The mopping up took days and, in some instances, weeks.
Porirua City Council said no stormwater system – the city’s has been undergoing a major upgrade for several years – could have coped.
Trevor Farmer, who has worked in emergency management for nearly a decade, said it was the worst flooding he had seen, and that the council’s response was as good as it could have been.
The council manager of works operations, William Middleton, said it was a tough day for his staff.
Since 2010, Porirua has endured an annual flood in at least one part of the city. What will 2016 bring?
Tawa train station under water on May 14.