Woman buried in mud slide rescued by partner in Napier deluge

A woman buried up to her neck in mud was rescued by her partner after widespread flooding in Napier sparked a large slip on Hospital Hill.

Over 237mm of rainfall was recorded in Napier across Monday and throughout the night – making it the city’s second wettest day on record.

Paul Matthews, of Main St, pulled his partner free from the wreckage after the back of their house was “destroyed” during a slip about 6.30pm.

Matthews said his partner was “pretty shaken and bruised” as a result, while friends and children who were staying in the home were also left scared but uninjured.

He said the rain was “torrential” and the street “was like a river” during the downpour.

The house had since filled with mud. He can’t get to his kitchen, laundry and bathroom, and outside shed due to the debris.

The fire service evacuated the couple and others in the house.

“I was surprised at how quick they got here.”

He said fire crews sent a drone to inspect damage and said it was “the worst” in the city.

Neighbour Anne Vink said she witnessed Matthews dig his partner out of the mud – eventually getting help from others.

“A huge gum tree and mud destroyed their sleep out that Paul’s partner was sleeping in, because she’s a shift worker, and she was buried in mud up to her neck,” Vink said.

“He lost his cat too – he just found its bowl in the mud next to his wife.”

Another neighbour, who wished not to be named, said a number of locals rushed to the aid of the buried woman.

“A loud bang was heard, then an old tree came down. All the neighbours rushed to help and found the woman up to her neck in mud.”

Matthews and many locals were evacuated to the Kennedy Park Resort Napier.

Napier mayor Kirsten Wise has declared a state of emergency in the city due to the flooding.

Residents are being told to shelter at home and avoid driving where possible.

Vink said she knew there was going to be trouble after hearing a “loud bang” when the tree came down.

“It was very scary. The tree dragged everything with it into their house,” she said. “I’m so concerned about them because I think they’re going to lose their house.

“His house is full of mud from one end to the other and looks to be close to slipping. I’ve never seen a slip like this, ever.”

Another local said he had been digging and clearing mud from the slip for hours.

Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management said if you feel unsafe at home, self-evacuate to family and friends first.

“If you have no other options, evacuate to Kennedy Park at 11 Storkey St, Marewa. If you need urgent help because you are in danger, call 111,” a statement said.

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