Whiritoa locals' lucky escape

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By Jaden McLeod

It was just before dawn yesterday morning when Rachelle Hill - on her way to a new job in Whangamata - was nearly swept off the road by a massive slip.

"One of the scariest moments, it was dark. I had come down this road, saw the slip in front of me. Just as I was trying to figure out what to do, another slip came down, and then I knew I just had to get off the road."

Miss Hill was less than a kilometre north of Whiritoa when falling debris struck her car.

"The front panel came off, I got out of my car, shoved it in my little boot, and drove very slowly."

Miss Hill was helped to rescue by the Whiritoa Rural Fire Crew. She was forced to abandon her car on the road to Whangamata.

"Hey, I'm alive and that's the main thing. I just hope people are okay that are affected."

Miss Hill says locals told her she was lucky not be wiped out by another major slip which came down minutes after she passed.

"Someone was definitely looking out for me just then."

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Just down the road, Gail Coxhead and her son, Kieron, awoke to find water surrounding their property.

"Between 5.30am and 7am the water rose to right at the top of the deck, just about lapping over!"

Ms Coxhead says the water had come from the hills surrounding the beachfront town.

"The whole street was literally knee deep. Kieron walked out into the street at about 8am in the morning, walked across and it was definitely knee deep."

But, locals agree, the effects could have been much worse.

They're banding together to see them through the next deluge, forecast to hit in the next 24 hours.

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