February 10, 2022
Heavy rains turn Kawatiri into island
There’s high anxiety for whānau in Kawatiri Westport, with a state of emergency declared for the Buller region after more than 100 millimetres of rain in 24 hours.
The Buller River is up more than 11 metres and rising.
Kawatiri resident Rehia McDonald says many homes have been evacuated, including cabins where people have been living while their homes are repaired after last July’s floods.
Floods and slips have closed roads between the various West Coast townships.
“The coast is closed off, no way to get in from Mawhera or Reefton. We are a little island surrounded by water. There is no way for whānau to get out from the Kawatiri region unless they are helicoptered out,” she says.
Rehia McDonald says the high school has sent pupils home.