Wanganui Catholic schools and parish communities were badly affected by the city’s worst flooding since records began. Ninety millimetres of rain fell on June 20 alone, which is the average rainfall for the entire month.
The low-lying area in Raine St, Wanganui East, where St Anne’s Church and St Anne’s Catholic School buildings are situated, were surrounded by floodwaters.
St Anne’s Church, with a distinctive stained glass steeple, opened in 1999. However, it will be closed for 3-4 months because of water damage.
Although the offices were spared, there was no stopping the water and silt saturating the carpets in the church.
The pews were pushed to the higher back end of the nave, which slopes down towards the raised sanctuary area. This space and the liturgical furniture appeared to be undamaged as of the end of June, but a detailed investigation was being undertaken to determine the full extent so repairs could get under way immediately.
Parishioners were asked to carpool to get to St Mary’s Church in the central city for Mass.
The popular Monday morning Mainly Music group, which is held in St Anne’s Church, had to break early for the school holidays.
Convener Anne Smith said her leadership team accepted an invitation from the Baptist Church, just around the corner, to use their premises as a temporary venue. This will allow the group to continue meeting until it can return.
Although they were unable to retrieve their gear, they are hoping a local kindergarten will be able to lend some equipment in the meantime.
St Anne’s Catholic School was closed for two days for health and safety reasons.
Because the nearby Matarawa Stream overflowed onto the playing fields and courts, the areas had to be sprayed against possible contaminants.
Although all the other buildings were untouched, the Mrs Betty Eriksen School Library was saturated with water. Parents immediately rallied around to move all the books to safety. The carpets had to be lifted and cabinets pulled out, enabling a closer inspection of water damage to the floor and lower walls.
“Everyone helped,” said principal Carl Zimmerman. “Even a school neighbour offered the use of his high pressure water blaster.”
Cullinane College, directly beneath Christie’s Hill, were counting their blessings, escaping
major damage, even though surrounding neighbourhoods were cordoned off because of flooding. The
college was closed on Monday June 22 because of power outages and several teachers were unable to travel because of road blockages.
The spacious Fr Graham Johnson SM Gymnasium was the only building damaged by floodwater and debris.
Students and parents mucked in to clean the floor area and the college will have to have a
second and final commercial clean and sanitation application before it can be fully used again.