HEAVY downpours and swollen rivers over the weekend struck the "fear of God," back into Kaeo residents, Dip Rd homeowner Warren Martin said yesterday.
He and his neighbours quickly moved their cars away from their flood-prone homes on Friday evening as the Kaeo River rose rapidly.
The Dip Rd residents had all-too-vivid memories of last year's March and July deluges, when water from the flooded river surged through their houses. At the weekend, floodwaters stayed outside their doors but rose to over a metre in some areas, cutting power, forcing roads to close and stranding people inside their homes.
"We're more prepared now and we see the warning signs. We're not going to take any risks so everyone cleared out their vehicles. It's a good job we did," Mr Martin said.
Yesterday, he and neighbour Paula Jones were clearing up their front lawns which had been submerged under river water.
"It's carnage outside. There's logs and debris everywhere and we've got a fence down. We just kept praying for it not to happen," Ms Jones said.
"The river flooded and you couldn't see any grass outside, it was just water everywhere. It made us all pretty nervous. I felt sick seeing the water rise. We're just all so fed up with it now."
As Kaeo residents were battening down the hatches, the rain pummeled other parts of the region.
Storm waves battered Paihia, washing the 13m catamaran Mazuaran on to rocks at the base of the bluff separating the town from Waitangi's Tii Beach.
The bottom was torn from both hulls and debris was strewn across the shore. The catamaran, owned by a Paihia man too upset to talk about his damaged vessel, was expected to be lifted from the rocks by a crane and removed on a truck yesterday afternoon.
A large section of the seawall in front of the Autolodge, battered by waves at full tide, gave way early yesterday, with several metres of the town's main coastal road slipping into the sea. However, the Far North District Council had the washout repaired within hours.
Council spokeswoman Alison Lees said the storm had been frightening for some people, but was no way comparable with the March and July floods of last year.
She said Kaeo and Whangaroa were worst hit during this storm, with significant rain falling around the region.
"We were all hoping we weren't going to get a repeat of last year's flood disaster. Every Northlander that had suffered then were keeping their fingers crossed," she said.
Ms Lees said there was no large-scale loss or damage and it was too early to say how much a clean-up would cost.
Flooding closed SH10 near Kaeo and the flooded Waipapa River bridge on State Highway 1 at Rangiahua, 14km west of Okaihau, was impassable to cars but accessible to trucks and four wheel drive vehicles on Saturday.
Ms Lees said all roads were expected to be re-opened by yesterday evening.
Top Energy contracting manager Kevin Wilson said a slip brought down three power lines north of Kaeo about 1pm on Saturday, but his staff had restored power to all but a handful of isolated consumers in the Kaeo, Totara North and Whangaroa areas by 11pm on Saturday.
"Glitches" had caused power failures of 5-10 minutes from Russell through to Moerewa on Saturday afternoon, but these were quickly remedied.