New Zealand

New Zealand: Flood update 23 Feb 2004

Situation Report
Originally published
National emergency operations centre
Date/time: 23 February 2004 1700 hrs Release No: 10

Red Cross to help co-ordinate donations of goods and services

The Red Cross has established a 0800 number to co-ordinate the management and distribution of donated goods and services. <0800 0073 5433>

Those wishing to donate their time, as well as those in need should use the number.

This number will work in conjunction with the other Red Cross donation facilities in use:

Red Cross domestic donations 0900 33 200

Credit Card donations can be made at

Situation as at 1700 23 Feb 2004


Intense rainfall and gale force winds from 15-21 Feb have affected the lower North Island and the top of the South Island with extensive and locally severe flooding and some wind damage. The river peak of the Manawatu River was the second largest on record, the largest being recorded in 1902. The peak of the Rangitikei was the third largest on record since 1897.


MetService 0830 23 February

A severe warning is in place with brief bursts of heavy rain and strong northwesterly winds to the central North Island from Monday evening until early Tuesday morning. The headwaters of the Whanganui River are expected to receive falls of 60-80 mls. Falls of approximately 150mm are likely about the higher slopes of Mt Taranaki. The Ruahines could expect heavy falls although only measuring 30-50mm. People in these areas have been advised to be alert for rising waters.

If the weather event occurs as forecast the affected region (South Taranaki and Manawatu-Wanganui) should not be adversely affected.

Horizons Manawatu-Wanganui Region

The state of Regional Civil Defence Emergency for the Manawatu-Wanganui Region remains in force.


Figures on evacuee status and housing remain difficult to confirm. The Manawatu-Wanganui Housing/Welfare Committee, with assistance from Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management Advisors are working on revised number of evacuees.

Estimated numbers of current evacuees:

  • Horowhenua - 86 individuals
  • Rangitiki - 525 individuals
  • Ruapehu - 46 individuals

Major roads through the region are open/opening, except for the Manawatu Gorge. SH4 Raetihi to Wanganui is closed due to slips, but with detours in place. SH 54 Vinegar Hill to Cheltenham is also closed.


Electricity had been substantially restored to the MW area.


Eight one-stop shops have been established in Marton, Bulls, Feilding (2), Scotts Ferry, Tangimoana, Wanganui and Foxton where people can speak with representatives from agencies, including Housing NZ, Child Youth Family, and Work and Income.

In addition, a Government Flood Helpline has been established and is being promoted - 0800 779997

Rural Liaison Committee

The Rural Liaison Committee (RLC), consisting of Federated Farmers, Horizons MW, MAF, Dexcel, Fonterra, Royal New Zealand Airforce and the Wanganui Rural Community Board, is quantifying the impact of the flood event on the farming sector. The role of this committee is to identify and facilitate support to the rural community around stock issues, and offers of assistance.

A telephone questionnaire began on 21 February to gather information on present welfare needs, and in particular food, drinking water and medical requirements. It will also quantify impacts on farm access, stock losses, crop losses, building damage, fencing and water reticulation status. The information from this telephone questionnaire will help recovery agencies to estimate the full extent of the damage and ensure help is provided where needed.

Horowhenua District Council

Evacuations - All 86 evacuees are billeted out to private residences and motels.

Rangitikei District Council

The Council has opened a Mayoral Relief Fund to assist the affected community.

Approx 150 homes in the district have been declared uninhabitable.

Rangitikei Civil Defence Emergency Operation Centre advises that the only schools remaining closed in the district are Hunterville schools.

Towns all have access to clean water.

Manawatu District Council

Schools closed:

Bunnythorpe School

All 6 Feilding Schools


23 bridges affected by flooding. Initial estimates provided by Transfund of $20 million to repair district bridges and roads.


Feilding has water and sewerage. Residents are urged to continue to boil water until advised otherwise. Bottled water is being supplied. Water tankers remain in place.

Stanway/Halcombe & Waituna West has no water supplies. Expected sometime next week.

Wanganui District Council


Further information sought

Stock losses:

There are concerns about the number of dead stock and residents' freezer stocks that need to be destroyed.

Tararua District Council


Several roads still closed. Still a great deal of cleanup work continuing.


South Taranaki District

A Civil Defence declaration is still in force for the township of Waitotara and the Waitotara Valley. This declaration is due to expire shortly.


Approximately 100 individuals remain evacuated. Building and electrical inspections are being made. NZDF asked to assist with clean up.


3 houses condemned. Approx 20 requiring structural repairs, 10 habitable once health issues resolved.

School closed:

Waitotara until 9 March


Waitotara has limited water supply with water bores still in need of checking for contamination. Sewerage and water tanks (30) will need to be pumped before residents can be safely returned to their houses.


Fire Station Store and Hall are all closed.


Hutt City


40 properties confirmed as uninhabitable in Hutt City in short and medium term.

South Wairarapa


Water restoration is expected by Monday 23 February 2004.



5 families remain evacuated




It is estimated that there are currently about 1000 people displaced from their homes. Twenty-five of these are in emergency accommodation while the remainders are all in alternative accommodation.

One-Stop-Shops have been established in 11 locations across South Taranaki, Horizons-MW, Kapiti and Lower Hutt.

The One-Stop-Shops in Horizons-MW were open over the weekend from 1000hrs - 1600hrs on Saturday and Sunday. From Monday the centres will be open from 0900hrs to 1700hrs.

A Free Phone Number (0800 779 997) (open from 0700hrs - 2200hrs) has been established.


Report being developed by MAF.


State Highway status has improved. However the Manawatu Gorge SH3 will be closed for at least a week. Within Manawatu-Wanganui extensive road and bridge damage has been assessed and a work programme will be commenced by 23 February.

Telecommunication customer disconnects to fewer than 1,000. Access is preventing further improvements.

Whilst water needs boiling due to contamination, all areas have access to water. Tankers to top up reservoirs around the area are supplying water.

The North Island Main Trunk rail line is open. The Marton-New Plymouth line will not open until next Thurs 26 February due damage to the Whangaehu Bridge.

Utility service restoration is limited by access rather than resources, with companies sharing people and equipment and sourcing shortfalls or shift crews from around the country.

Contact Numbers for Support, Assistance and Donations

  • Government Flood Helpline 0800 779 997
  • Red Cross domestic donations 0900 33 200
  • Palmerston North City/Salvation Army Domestic donations 0800 00 73 5433 or 0800 00 RELIEF
  • International Welfare 04 472 3750
  • Federated Farmers help line 0800 335 663 or 0800 Farming
For Media enquiries specific to the region, please contact:

Manawatu-Wanganui Region - 06 952 2800

South Taranaki District - 06 278 0555

For national level enquiries, contact: Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management - Chandrika Kumaran Cell : 027 244 9356

Regional updates

For updates on the Manawatu-Wanganui region, link to the Horizons Regional Council website

For updates on Hutt City in the Wellington region, link Hutt City Council website

Gas Update

Hawkes Bay gas supplies have been interrupted due to the collapse of the Saddle Road bridge over the Pohangina River. Link to for details.

For latest weather, link to MetService

For the latest road information, link to

Information on Cleanup

Press Release by Horizons Regional Council at 21 Feb 2004 10:52

Horizons Regional Council has information for residents beginning to clean up after this week's rain.

The Building Research Association (BRANZ) has advice on restoring a house after flood damage. A link to the BRANZ website is on Horizons' website under "my favourites - tips for cleaning photos, furniture and much more". Tips are on Horizons website ( under "my favourites".

The Whanganui Regional Museum has provided simple techniques for salvaging photographs, books, documents, papers, artworks, special textiles and furniture to assist people who are coping with damage and loss to their properties. While such things may not be high priority for residents, it is possible to freeze some papers, books and photographs until people have time to deal with them properly.

There is also information on taking health precautions while cleaning contaminated water from homes. Residents should not use vegetables from their vege gardens which may have been contaminated and only use those which can be peeled and boiled.

Once water has receded, people need to get rid of any bedding, clothing, carpet, furniture or other personal items which have been in contact with flood water unless they can be disinfected. They should be listed for insurance purposes. District Councils will have local information on what to do with flood-damaged items.

Walls, floors and any other washable surfaces should be washed with a mix of a litre of bleach to 10 litres of water, left on for half an hour and rinsed off. Windows should be opened, and everything washed down with hot soap and water. Use rubber gloves and disinfect any cuts.

If raw sewage has affected homes, residents should notify their District Council so the house can be inspected by a Health Inspector. Once things have dried out, residents should use a dust mask to sweep up - dust may contain contaminants.

Families needing help, or those with assistance to offer can call the one-stop assistance "shops" on 0800 779997.

Horizons' website has also had an unprecedented number of hits over the last few days. A total of 471,000 hits was recorded from Sunday to midnight Thursday. The average number of hits over the last 12 months is 32,000 hits per week. More than 6500 new visitors accessed the website.

River flow and rainfall information, all media releases, regular situation reports and clean up advice can be found on