We dodged a bullet, mayors say of storm

Shirley Rowling, left, sits next to her friend Val A’Court and dog Monty, after they were rescued from their Brooklyn home near Riwaka yesterday. PICTURE: New Zealand Herald

Firefighters were inundated with callouts after the country battled with former Cyclone Gita, but South Island mayors say they dodged a bullet with little major damage.
Between midday yesterday and 6am today, Fire and Emergency New Zealand received 1300 callouts, mainly for flooded homes, fallen power lines and trees, a spokeswoman said today.
States of emergency were declared in Taranaki, Nelson-Tasman region, Selywn district, Grey district, Buller, Westland and Christchurch.
The top of the South Island was worst hit with heavy rain closing roads and causing flooding in the Tasman region.
Buller Mayor Garry Howard says there was minimal damage to the district with only a few trees and “superficial stuff” affected.
“Things didn’t eventuate as bad as we were expecting,” he said.
Kaikoura was hit with heavy rain, closing both the coastal highway and inland route but Mayor Winston Gray said this morning the “sun is shining”. He said there was no damage to the township itself.
“We’ve really dodged a bullet.” Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says they had been concerned about coastal inundation but were fortunate they did not have a very high tide.
A state of emergency remained in place in Nelson this morning and more than 130 people had spent the night welfare centres in Takaka and Motueka after escaping flooding.
Eighty were later escorted home in Takaka last night, while 53 spent the night at the Motueka welfare centre.
Those who remained in the Motueka centre would have to await an assessment of their flood-damaged homes to find out if they could return home, Mr Kempthorne said.
The Takaka Hill road, State highway 60, remains closed due to flooding and slips but crews are working to get it open.
Former cyclone Gita is now about 250km east of Canterbury and should continue to move away from the country, the Metservice says.
However, heavy rain is expected to continue in Dunedin and North Otago until late afternoon.
In the North Island, parts of New Plymouth were without water after a large tree fell and destroyed a pipeline but the airport was open.
All wind warnings associated with Gita had been lifted.

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