RECORD DOWNPOUR ELEVEN INCHES FALL. WHANGAREI TOWN SWEPT. t FIGHT TO SAVE BRIDGE. There were extraordinary scenes in Wliangarei on Saturday night, when the town, deluged by a record rainfall, was swept by one of the biggest floods in its history. With the tide still four hours to make, the streets were swirling torrents and water was in shops and buildings in low-lying areas. During the night anxious barelegged business men —with trousers rolled up over knee-height, patrolled their shops, trying to keep out the encroaching tide. Earlier in the day. on the afternoon high tide the Waiavohia Stream broke its banks, causing anxiety for the effect at the early morning high tide. The rain continued to pour, turning a sAin rainfall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to a record of 11.41 in by 9 a.m. on Sunday. Strange Sights. Even with the tide full out the waters continued to rise and picture crowds saw strange sights as they made their way into town. When they came out about 10.30 the tide had risen and it was impossible to leave the theatre except by navigating a stretch of water several inches deep. Men peeled off their shoes and stockings. Women were piek-a-backed to waiting vehicles. The more adventurous followed the example of the men. Those who did not mind wet feet and stockings waded through the flood, dresses draping in the muddy water. Water Breaks Through. Just before 10 o'clock, the water which had banked up in Central Park and the area in which the Plunket Rooms stand, broke through into the street, the pavement of which was soon lost in a Sea of muddy water, which raged down to • the intersection of Bank and Water Streets, and then shot oil' in all directions. The first business premises to be inundated were those in Water Street, and a special staff of the "Northern Advocate" spent a busy two hours in moving paper and valuable machinery out of reach of the everadvancing water. Across the road Weston's Garage premises received the full force of the water as it rushed out of the park and across the road, and the water was up to the axles of vehicles. No damage was done, the firm being fortunate in that it had sold its last new car in the morning. Other premises in Water Street were invaded, and from the corner the water charged across the road, straight for the Commercial Cafe. But it did not enter. Seated on the doorstep in stools were two men, and they were actually keeping the flood at bay, with the aid of planks and sacks. And outside the barricade the water must have been nearly a foot deep. ' Vine Street was just a torrent, and the same obtained at the corner of Bank and Cameron Streets and Rust Lane. Here the water, tearing down the hill and round the corner, ripped up sections of the pavement. Houses Get Brunt of Flood. The rawing of the footpath in Vine Street saved the Cameron Street business houses from a devastation of the lost visitation. The majority of the shops did get water, but not to the extent of the previous flooding. Houses banking on Walton Street, the low-lying area into which the Waiarohia Stream rushed early on Saturday afternoon, received the brunt of the night flood. Here the majority of the residents had to leave their homes and find shelter, some in the town hall and boarding-houses, but the majority Kvitli friends. In that sector —the worst in the town —the dairy factory was the principal victim of the rushing torrent, and suffered severe damage. Lower Rathhone Street was also badly hit and residents of Roberts Street spent an unenviable night. From Going's garage in James' Street, almost to Victoria Bridge there was a sheet of water between two and three feet deep, which, at one stage, blockcd traffic, and vehicles wishing to cross Victoria Bridge had to detour via Walton Street. Battle for the Bridge. At Victoria Bridge itself was enacted one of the dramas of the night—a fight to save the bridge, the only connecting link for traffic from the extensive area between the town and Wliangarei Heads. For several hours it appeared that the crushing weight of the debric borne down by the tremendously swollen Hatea River, would prevail. The barges used in conjunction with the construction of the new bridge slipped their moorings and their hawser lines became' fouled with a second line of debris, all pressing against the old structure. It was the borough engineer, Mr. H. W. Cormack, and the foreman of the new job, Mr. Sissons, assisted by a gang of splendid workers, who finally triumphed. Gelignite was used in an endeavour to move some of the larger logs, but with little effect, but i the" battle was won by 9.30. Perhaps the most amazing feature of the whole flood was the manner in which 1 the high-lying land in the Upper Bank Street. Mairtown and Ivanio Road areas was inundated.
A solid river ran downhill right from King Street, where several houses were deeply surrounded, to Wrack Street, down part of Wallace Street, and then across country to Manse Street, and in a leaping torrent, down Upper Bank Street and Harrison's Hill. Several residents of Wrack Street were forced to evacuate their homes early in the afternoon, and when the flood reached its height in their area in the early hours of the morning, the water mark was approaching the height of tables upon which furiture had been stored. Cars Abandoned. ! In these high streets quite a number of cars were caught unprepared by flooded sections of the roa.l and numbers of deserted vehicles were dotted about 200 ft above sea level. As the water ploughed its way it left in its wake considerable damage to streets. Many residential rtreets today are paved with cobblc stones covered with silt, a.ud, in places, chip footpaths have completely disappeared. Further towards the town, where there are bitumen paths, whole strips have been torn out, leaving several jagged holes in Upper Bank Street and as far cjowu as the Cameron Street corner. Shops Flooded. Practically all the shops on the wes- 1 tern side of Upper Bank Street were flooded and here, as elsewhere, shopkeepers are contemplating sales for damaged goods. The proprietor of a confectionery business, assisted by his wife, kept the sea, which was tearing down the footpath, out of his premises by the aid of a timber barricade. Borough workmen were back on duty yesterday repairing temporarily scoured footpaths in the main streets and generally clearing up the town where large deposits o~f silt and debris had been left in the wake of the waters. The electrical staff had a busy day repairing broken lines and fallen poles, and the telegraph staff was out repairing a multitude of lines, where faults had interrupted services. At Woolley's Bay breakers raced up the beach as far as and beyond the well-known wire fence, which disappeared. A dinghy was smashed to matchwood, and the roof of a carslicd was blown away. A plank. 20ft long. 9in wide and Sin thick, which had been placed on the roof, was carried some 10yds until it collided with a bay window in Mr. Woollev's residence. A big pohutukawa was uprooted and sandhills were levelled. Mr. Walker and family, who were camping at the beach, had .their ent blown away, and they had to take refuge at Woolley's farm. A large slip came down, blocking the road between Woolley's Bay and Morrison's Bay, and it is stated that a week's work will be required to clear it. Those who left Matapouri for Wliangarei yesterday had to travel via Marua. There are many slips on this road, some being of a substantial nature. NIAGARA'S VOYAGE. TWO DAYS OF BAD WEATHER. IN TAIL END OF THE GALE. Though she did not meet the full force of the gale which swept Auckland during the week-end, the Royal mail steamer Niagara, en route from Sydney, met the tail-end of it on Saturday and Sunday. For those two days the Niagara was in a moderate south-east gale which made conditions most uncomfortable for her passengers. Officers of the ship stated that much worse < times have been experienced on the Tasman crossing, and that the gale was nothing in comparison with a cyclonic storm which swept the liner soon after she left Vancouver last month on her voyage to Honolulu. On this occasion it will be recalled that two of the ship's starboard lifeboats were stove in. and railing, deck equipment and portholes battered by the fury of the storm. The Niagara ran into freshening winds on Saturday, which developed into a moderate gale, and it was not until the vessel rounded the North Cape yesterday evening that she ran out of it. She had a good run down the coast, but nevertheless was over two hours late. WIPED OUT. GLIDING CLUB'S MACHINES. A mass of broken wings and twisted fuselages were all that remained of the Auckland Gliding Club's machines yesterday afternoon after the blow. A scene of desolation greeted the members when they gathered to salvage the remains of their equipment. The hangar was blown clean away, iron and wood being distributed over hundreds of yards. One smashed and torn wing reposed ill the barb wire fence, whilst three others were found with difficulty in the valley below, one wing having been blown over half a mile away. The club's new Waco glider, an imported production, cannot be replaced under £120, while the locally-made Zogling will take at least £40 to renew. In addition to this, most of the equipment, such as the tools, winding winch and ropes, were damaged by rain and falling timbers. "This will set us back at least six months," remarked the club president, Mr. F. C. Macdonakl, "but the members are not content to sit down quietly and take it. We are immediately organising to raise fresh funds, and working 'bees' are being arranged to save what we can." In view of the rapid progress the club has been making, it is hoped that help will be forthcoming from the public. The club has written to the Minister of Defence placing the position before him and stressing the importance of the sport in the training of future aviators.
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NORTH FLOODED, Auckland Star, Volume LXVII, Issue 28, 3 February 1936
NORTH FLOODED Auckland Star, Volume LXVII, Issue 28, 3 February 1936
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