Impatient motorists ignore floodwater warnings

Beau McQuarrie says there needs to be a quicker response to block off flooded roads.

A Whangaripo farmer is calling on motorists to show more care when roads are flooded.

Beau McQuarrie, who lives at the State Highway 1 end of Wayby Valley Road, says he is getting sick of rescuing motorists who ignore the ‘road closed’ barriers, cones and signs.

In the most recent deluge, when 205mm of rain was recorded in Wayby in 24 hours, Beau got his first knock on the door at 4.30am. He had rescued five vehicles by lunchtime, including the truck that had come to block the road, and nine vehicles by the end of the day.

“That truck was buggered,” Beau says. “In fact, most of the stranded vehicles wouldn’t start afterwards.

“Motorists are just ignoring the warnings and I’ve even seen people moving the cones so they can get through. In all cases, there wasn’t an emergency – it was just people trying to get home or go to work. If they had detoured through Wellsford, it would have cost them probably an extra 10 minutes, but they just couldn’t be bothered.”

Beau estimates that in some places, the road was up to one-and-a-half metres under water.

“It was really dangerous.”

Wellsford police Sgt Geoff Medland says motorists ignoring the signs are putting both themselves and those who have to rescue them at risk.

“We recently had a case of a father with a two-year-old on board, whose car got stuck in floodwaters and the pair had to swim out and climb a tree,” he says.

“The detours normally only add a few extra minutes to the trip and that’s better than losing your vehicle or putting yourself in danger.”

Sgt Medland says Wayby Valley and parts of Waiteitei Road are known for flooding, but coastal sections in Mangawhai are also becoming a problem on king tides.

“Being a rural area, there are lots of people with 4WDs who think they can negotiate flooded roads, but unless they have a snorkel that sits high on the vehicle, they are asking for trouble.

“The air intakes on a lot of 4WDs are low, so instead of taking in air, they take in water, causing engine hydraulicing. If that happens, you could be looking at a $10,000 repair bill.”


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