The community spirit of Northland town Mangawhai has been praised, a week on from flash flooding which left hundreds stranded as the town became an island.
The seaside town, and other parts of southeast Northland, were hit by intense flash flooding last Friday, with 373mm of rain falling in just a few hours.
With the ground still saturated by Cyclone Gabrielle, the intense rain caused slips and compromised bridges, leaving up to 400 people unable to get home.
Mangawhai Golf Club was one of the community facilities which opened its doors, enabling people to take shelter, have hot showers and get hot food.
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General manager Carry Dale said more than 70 people came into the club, a number whom were just passing through the town because State Highway 1 was closed at Brynderwyn Hill.
While power was cut to some parts of the area for 10 days following Cyclone Gabrielle, they were fortunate the power was not cut on Friday, she said.
As the club was unable to house the people overnight, many members simply billeted the strangers in their homes, she said.
“It was a great community response, it was unbelievable,” Dale said.
“Friends of mine literally found themselves on the side of the road and people came out [from a nearby house] and invited them in, just total strangers.
“There’s definitely a lot of community spirit up here.”
But Dale thought local contractors who had been working long hours to clear trees and make properties secure were the “real heroes”.
Seventy-five-year-old Hakaru resident Lynda Sampson believed the community spirit was what anybody else would do in the same situation.
She was without power and communication for seven days after Cyclone Gabrielle, and then trapped virtually in her home for four days after Friday’s flash flooding.
She has now borrowed a generator to protect against any further power cuts or further bad weather.
“People are more worried about Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne – we’re lucky. Even though our roads have collapsed, we’re lucky,” she said.
Kaipara mayor Craig Jepson was also thankful to everyone who opened their homes or offered bedding for those who were stuck.
Many communities had become closer since cyclone Gabrielle, with neighbours checking in on neighbours and helping each other, he said.
People now needed confidence in the economy, with Northland farmers and tourism operators being hit hard, Jepson said.
Five roads around Kaipara are still closed as a result of the bad weather events, including Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Rd.
Locals are now about to use Cove Rd – after a damaged bridge at Langs Beach opened on Wednesday –and slip-damaged Mangawhai Rd is open to one lane.
However, Civil Defence Northland said this route is for locals only and should not be used as a detour, with work still ongoing.
SH1 is open to northbound traffic at Brynderwyn Hill.
Light southbound traffic will need to take Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd, while heavy trucks must use SH14 and Sh12 through Dargaville.