This Poem was written about the July 17 flooding event by local resident Hannah de Witt.

Here comes the rain’
we all sighed as we said,
‘a perfectly good reason
to stay tucked up in bed’.

We are used to this weather,
living on the West Coast.
The rain falls on us here,
a bit more than most.

We all own gumboots,
parked in pairs at the door.
Our rainforest thrives here,
leaving visitors in awe.

The weather warning came late in the week,
Buller was set to get hit.
We brought our wood and coal inside,
and kept our fires lit.

And it rained and it rained,
and it rained a whole lot.
The bulk of the water,
ending up in one spot;

The Buller River roaring and spilling right over,
heading straight into town.
The Orowaiti lagoon swelling and surging,
flat land starting to drown.

Then came the alerts from Civil Defence,
evacuations were underway.
Just a precaution we all thought,
but we better do what they say.

Saturday came and the rain kept falling,
How much more water can we take?
Our roads transformed into rivers,
backyards replaced with lakes.

Our ‘grab bags’ packed and ready to go,
we peered out our windows with worry.
Rounding up pets and photographs,
better to be safe than sorry.

By now the bridges were being closed,
Orowaiti followed by the Buller.
There was no way in or out of town,
And the river was still getting fuller!

The worst of it wasn’t over,
high tide was due at four.
We watched as the water then rose at speed,
and gushed through our front doors.

In came the army with their unimogs,
staunch in uniforms of beige.
Some families were boated to safety,
as the mighty Buller continued to rage.

With evacuation centres at capacity,
and no more available space,
we got an alert to our mobiles,
remaining residents to ‘shelter in place’.

And it rained and it rained,
and no one could sleep.
Our town under water,
a lot of it deep.

On Sunday helicopters whirred overhead,
surveying all the damage.
We tuned into media in disbelief,
It’s all that we could manage.

And we cried and we hugged and we sat for a minute,
not quite sure what comes next.
Then came the helpers from near and far,
starting on welfare checks.

We thought about friends whose houses were shagged,
and what they might now be lacking.
We rolled up our sleeves and said ‘it’s just stuff’,
and about time we all got cracking’.

Up came the carpets, out went the couches,
worldly possessions in piles in the street.
No one was hurt, we are all safe,
a bit of water won’t have us beat!

The people of Westport are a hardy bunch,
full of determination and grit.
We certainly love our place in the world,
but the people are the best bit.