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Paraparaumu Beach family’s driveway can become a waterway when steady rain strikes

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The Riley family, from left Matthew, Samuel, Jorden, and Angela, at the front of their Whyte St home in Paraparaumu Beach. Photo / David Haxton

The sound of rain pitter-pattering on the roof can be enjoyable for many but not the Riley family.

The Rileys – Matthew and Angela and their two children Jorden and Samuel — are on edge when it rains.

About three or four stormwater pipes near their house don’t drain water quickly enough when there’s steady rain, which in turn can push water up over their driveway and towards their garage.

“We’ve been flooded about seven times in the last five years,” Matthew said today, when rising water forced them to sandbag the top of their drive.

The family has lived on the corner of Whyte St and Golf Rd, Paraparaumu Beach, for 10 years.

In that time, they’ve had to recarpet part of their house several times and replace furniture and fittings.

Angela said it was getting to the point where their insurance company weren’t sure “how much longer they can cover us”.

“And we can’t afford tens of thousands of dollars every time it floods.”

Matthew said the family was constantly checking weather forecasts when rain was expected.

“You wonder how much it’s going to be, and whether we’re going to flood again. It’s just a horrible feeling.”

A water truck was used to collect and remove lots of water from outside the Riley home. Photo / David Haxton
A water truck was used to collect and remove lots of water from outside the Riley home. Photo / David Haxton

During the night, when a lot of rain is expected, the family sets alarms so that someone can get up and check the property.

“We’ve got to the stage where we just leave sandbags in place all the time now. We can’t even use our garage because we have to sandbag it.”

The situation had become so dire they’ve put two industrial grade 1000-litre-a-second pumps in but that just takes water to the road again and it becomes a vicious circle.

“Those pumps cost us $20,000. We put one pump in, but that wasn’t enough, so we had to put a second one in.”

A small drain at the front of the driveway had been crucial in stopping things from getting worse.

The family has also put in a small concrete wall, about 250mm high, around the inside of the garage, to prevent water from entering the house.

“We put the wall in 12 months ago which was the last time it flooded,” Matthew said.

“That’s a stopgap because if it’s raining, and doesn’t stop, it’s going to go over the wall,” Samuel said.

There were water issues about five weeks ago and again today when the heavens opened in the morning.

Matthew said steady rain, about 4mm or 5mm an hour, was “enough to cause problems”.

A service request to Kāpiti Coast District Council today saw people in high-vis vests inspect the area and a water truck dump 7000 litres of water elsewhere over several trips.

The family had heard the council was upgrading a water sump nearby soon, but Matthew wasn’t sure if that would solve the issues, and that any stormwater upgrade could be two or three years away.

“Every time we talk to someone they say it’s a capacity issue and that the pipes aren’t big enough,” Angela said.

“We need the council to sort out the stormwater. We’re at risk of flooding every time it rains.”

A council spokesperson said: “Council contractors were able to respond quickly today to clear out sand and tree debris which would have been contributing to the overflow at this site”.

“Unfortunately, flooding has been a long-term known issue in this area.

“The house is below the road, which has made it prone to flooding, so council has previously put in an extra sump and installed kerb and channel to help manage the problem.

“This catchment is part of the Kena Kena stormwater upgrade project that we will be advancing in the coming years as budgets become available through the Long Term Plan.”

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