Porirua School floods... again


Porirua School prin­ci­pal Vanessa Hendry cut a lonely fig­ure last Tues­day as she stood vigil at her school to see if flood wa­ters would breach her class­rooms.

And again, on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, she stood at the gate as par­ents came to pick up their chil­dren fol­low­ing yet an­other del­uge.

Watch­ing the wa­ter rise was some­thing she was used to.

‘‘It’s the third time in 21⁄ years it’s hap­pened but this isn’t as bad as the pre­vi­ous two times.’’

On Tues­day, the school was empty - af­ter the earth­quake, the pupils had been told to stay home - and the wa­ter did not en­ter the class­rooms.

Board of Trustees chair­woman Me­lanie Car­roll said ‘‘dis­cus­sions were on­go­ing’’ with both the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Porirua City Coun­cil.

‘‘You get waves of wa­ter in the road out­side [on Awarua St, in a down­pour] and as much as 10 cen­time­tres of wa­ter into the school grounds,’’ she said.

‘‘Luck­ily the class­rooms are raised but if it’s a wave that comes in, the class­rooms get swamped.’’

Car­roll said the coun­cil was good at keep­ing drains un­blocked, and the Awarua St ‘‘river’’ did drain into Els­don Park, but the floods were be­com­ing too com­mon­place.

‘‘What we have is a lot of anx­i­ety, when it rains, from par­ents, staff and chil­dren. It’s hard on every­one.’’

The Min­istry’s head of ed­u­ca­tion in­fras­truc­ture ser­vice, Jerome Shep­pard, said a work­ing group had been formed with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Porirua City Coun­cil, Wellington Wa­ter to in­ves­ti­gate a so­lu­tion.

‘‘We realise it’s frus­trat­ing for them [but] this project is un­der way and we con­tinue to take an ac­tive part in these dis­cus­sions. We do not have an in­di­ca­tion of what var­i­ous op­tions might cost.’’

Coun­cil chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Tam­sin Evans said Awarua St was very low-ly­ing and the stormwa­ter net­work could not cope with sud­den vol­umes of wa­ter.

While the foot­path and berm had been low­ered out­side the school, to drain away flood­ing, ‘‘de­tailed mod­el­ling’’ would be un­der­taken to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘Long-term so­lu­tions will be ex­pen­sive, so we have to make sure we’re spend­ing money in the right place, at the right time.’’

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