Westport track hit by mini ‘tsunami’


Patterson Park in Westport has been overwhelmed by a super moon king tide that left the grass racing track completely submerged and the amenities damaged.

“It was like a tsunami,” said Westport Trotting Club President, Dan Moloney.

“Imagine like you saw on telly with the Japan tsunami a few years ago – it was like that, just on a smaller scale.

“Kevin Gardener rang me from the track and said you better get down here, there is water flowing up over the track.

“I told him to pull the other one, but he was absolutely right.

“It was a wall of water just rolling in at walking pace.”

Moloney says the 12 horses stabled at the track were all shifted to higher ground in time, but it was a close call for a few of them.

“Four of them had to be rescued.

“Two were in a back paddock on the far side and there were two more in the stables behind the birdcage.

“When we pulled them out of their boxes, the water was up to their knees.”

A state of emergency was declared in Buller yesterday and Westport was one of the worst areas affected by both the king tide and a deluge of rain.

At one point on Thursday afternoon, Moloney estimates 95% of the racing track was submerged.

By Friday a lot of the water had subsided, but major damage had been done to the buildings on the property.

“The tearooms are buggered and they could be a write-off.

“And both water and sewerage have gotten in under the grandstand, too.

“I’m just heading home now to get in contact with the insurance company because we will need to get on to straight away if we want to race here next month.”

Moloney scoffed at any suggestion the meeting would have to be moved.

“We’ll be racing here, don’t you worry.

“A little thing like this isn’t going to put us out of commission.”

Moloney says the water actually came from the Orowaiti Lagoon to the back-right of the track, rather than the Buller River, which runs up to not far from the front of the track.

“It took us all by surprise; the club, the town, the council, everyone.

“It was just one of those things – a low pressure system and a super moon coupled with a storm and wind that was pushing it in.”

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