Moerewa is a 'town' best seen at a 100k through your rear vision mirror. It is right there at the bottom of the deprivation index. You would never want to stay there and you can't because there is nothing to stay in. A 4 Square (which featured in the news as selling precursors in the manufacture of 'P'); the Klondike Tavern (aka 'The flying Jug'); a tattoo shop; a second hand shop where I suspect you go to find your stolen goods and a great number of boarded up buildings going derelict.
And so it was that the Veteran spent a goodly part of Friday and Saturday 'trapped' in Moerewa by floods. I have driven all over the world. The weather bomb that hit the east coast of Northland on the Friday night produced the worst driving conditions I have ever experienced.
At about 10.00 pm I reached the little creek at the bottom of the Moerewa Hill to find it had expanded to about 70m wide with the bridge 1m under water. I guess there would have been about 20 cars trapped on the Moerewa side and an unknown number of the hill side. The rain was sheeting down and the cars on our side slowly built up until about 1.00 am when the road south from Moerewa to Kawakawa went under with a Camper Wagon and trailer swept off the road into the swamp with the occupants rescued by the Kawakawa Fire Brigade at about 3,00 am clinging to the roof of the vehicle. I kid you not. This was just like Queensland.
So there we were completely stuck (marooned) I guess about 100 cars in total. At about midnight torches appeared from the direction of the township back about .5k from the bridge. They were members of the local 'Happy Clappy' Church which was located in the old Moerewa Pub. I cannot speak too highly of them. They opened up the Church, found mattresses for those with young families; provided hot drinks and then for the whole of Saturday walked up and down the line of cars and offered food and drink to those still in their vehicles .... and this from a community on the bones of its bum.
Meanwhile back at the bridge the local dog control officer (whose house was going under) and using his Council ute worked continuously for 24 hours without a break
towing vehicles stuck in water and in the late Saturday afternoon, as the waters started to recede, towing vehicles through the water to the other side. He refused any payment ... said he was there to help.
I take my hat off to the members of that Church and to the FNDC Dog Control Officer. I saw another side of that sad town which is home to some magnificent people.
Hosking on NZ First
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