reefton ...... 1970’s    page  1
     name not given
After a period of about twelve hours of very heavy rain, the Inangahua River overflowed its banks, flooding many shops and homes. Around 1pm, while we were eating our dinner, Tony Fortune ran in to tell us that the river was flowing along the street next to us. Very quickly my husband escorted our elderly guest to our car and drove her to a safe place. While he was doing this I went outside and, by this time, the water was flowing through our property. We had a few hens so I went bare-footed to rescue them, as the water was too deep to wear my gum-boots. I lifted the struggling hens into a tree growing on our property, where they spent the next two days until the water drained away! After rescuing the hens, I then collected what eggs had been laid. In returning, my husband put the sugar, flour and bread bins on the still partly-set table. The bins were built close to the floor. Other things were put on to beds.

The flood-waters were around two inches deep in our house, just enough to make a mess. At the peak of the flood, some men came to our home and advised us to move out. I was carried out as the water was deep and like a swiftly flowing stream.
Later in the afternoon, when the water had receded a little, we returned home to begin the clean-up. Some good neighbors helped.

During this time I was surprised to see a boy rowing his boat in the water around our house. He asked if he could do so. I gave him permission as I found it somewhat amusing!

Gradually things went back to normal, after the mess inside and outside had been addressed. After a considerable drying-out period, new floor coverings were laid. Fortunately we were insured. Hopefully the flood protection, which was put in place later, will keep us free from anymore such floods.
FLASH FLOODS   Grey star

 Rivers swollen by heavy overnight rain, burst their banks in several areas, but not worse than at Reefton, where the Inangahua River inundated the town - four feet of water flowed through the main street.
Slips and wash-outs cut the West Coast rail link at “just about every kilometre” between Stillwater and Greymouth, and again just west of Cora Lynn. Twenty yards of track was swept away near Dobson.

The Lewis Pass road, was out in several places, and the Arthurs Pass road was blocked by
logs and boulders left behind when the Taramakau River burst its banks and briefly flooded the main highway near Jacksons. Residents of Reefton described the flooding as worst in the history of the town.
Without warning, the Inangahua River broke through near the domain and camping ground early in the afternoon. Water was soon a foot deep in shops and hotels. Silt and water swept through about 14 houses and almost as many shops.

Easter campers in the domain were badly affected and some were unable to retrieve their belongings from tents and caravans before the area was under water.
Two families were removed from their homes in the lowest lying part of the town as a safety measure, the Westport reporter of “The Press” said.

Holiday-makers were billetted in the community hall and fire station last evening.

Floodwater receded about 5 p.m, leaving behind inches of silt and debris on  the streets and in the buildings. One of the worst hit was one Reefton hotel in which new carpets  had been laid only a few weeks ago.

Volunteer workers set up  a canteen for people helping to remove carpets and stock from the hotels and stores and for those assisting residents to salvage belongings from flooded homes.

Further east at Crushington, a farmhouse, occupied by Mr I Wilson, and several acres of land were  inundated. Near Cronadun,  farmland was extensively flooded. but stock losses were not expected to be heavy. Most farmers had time to hurriedly shift stock to higher ground

Ironically, Reefton was almost without drinking water last night and rationing  had been imposed. The floodwaters had submerged the two pumps at the town’s reservoir and they were no longer functioning.