Flooded roads force de­ci­sion on the fly

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL -

WHEN Brumby Builders’ Gary Ward, Rus­sell Jenk­ins and Dave Web­ster set out for work in Piano Flat on Thurs­day, they never ex­pected to be flown home in a he­li­copter.

The three men were work­ing on a house when they be­came stranded af­ter heavy rain caused flood­ing in the sur­round­ing area.

‘‘The rain was just per­sist­ing down all day and prob­a­bly much of the night be­fore too but there was no thought it would have been flood­ing the roads,’’ Mr Jenk­ins said.

Upon leav­ing the house, which was be­ing built for Hart­ley and Karen Hay, the men re­alised the work van would not make it through the flood­ing.

Mr Ward took one for the team and tested the wa­ter — he walked out and it came up to his waist.

They con­tacted Brumby Builders owner Trevor Brumby at 5pm with their con­cerns.

‘‘The wa­ter was about 900mm . . . A van would’ve floated if I’d sent it in,’’ Mr Brumby said.

He sent his son Jeremy Brumby to the work site in a 4WD to try to res­cue his work­ers but he could not get any­where near the area.

‘‘He was about 4km away from them and then a lo­cal farmer couldn’t get through ei­ther, so I told him to get a chop­per from High Coun­try Heli­copters.’’

The men took their van back to the work site and found shel­ter in a nearby chil­dren’s play­ground as they waited for the chop­per.

‘‘We were told to wait there — it was the place the chop­per could land,’’ Mr Web­ster said.

Once aloft in the he­li­copter they could see how much rain had fallen through­out the day.

‘‘You just didn’t re­alise how bad it was un­til you got up there in the chop­per and could look down over it all,’’ he said.

It was Mr Web­ster and Mr Ward’s first ride in a he­li­copter.

‘‘I didn’t mind the he­li­copter ride but we would’ve made do if we’d had to stay,’’ Mr Web­ster said.

The three men ar­rived back in Gore about 7.30pm.

Mr Brumby said it was the first time he had had to fly some­body home from a job.

He at­tempted to re­turn to the site at 7.15am yesterday but still could not get through to Piano Flat. — The En­sign


On dry land . . . The Brumby Builders team (from left) builder Gary Ward, painter Dave Web­ster and builder Rus­sell Jenk­ins.

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