Two buildings in central Wellington have been evacuated due to flooding in their shared basement.
New Zealand Assistant Chief Martin Wilby said water had come out of the main supply to the fire protection systems at the JacksonStone & Partners building on the corner of Victoria and Hunter streets, in the center of the capital, on Friday morning.
The main line was isolated and crews from six fire stations in Wellington were pumping out the basement of that building and the basement of the neighboring Perpetual Guardian building.
“Wellington’s reticulated water supply network has not been affected and we have full fire water supply to all surrounding buildings,” said Wilby.
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Wilby said Wellington City Council supported those who needed help as a result of the evacuations, while Fire and Emergency worked with contractors to restore water supply to Jackson Stone House.
Matt Franklin, Thorndon’s senior station officer, said up to 30 cars could use the car park in the shared single-story basement, but on Friday only four cars were parked in the “waist-high” floodwaters.
He said crews had been pumping an “Olympic size” volume of water since early Friday morning after the water main burst.
For safety reasons, power to both buildings has been shut off.
Due to the calamity, the surrounding roads were one lane and footpaths were closed.
Tom Mahony, a principal at Mahoney Horner Lawyers, located in the Jackson Stone House building, arrived at work shortly after 4:30 a.m. hoping to spend some time at the gym.
Instead, when he opened the roller door to the parking garage, he was shocked to be greeted by floodwaters.
Mahony contacted the building manager and then called emergency services, who arrived not long after.
The building was evacuated and access blocked from mid-morning, he said.
“People were told early on that we had to work from home.”
It had been both a “very dramatic” and a “disruptive” day. The disruptions were particularly painful because it happened on a Friday when the company had some deadlines to meet.
He said there was a “river of water” flowing steadily down Victoria St into the sewage system as firefighters pumped out the basement.
Mahony wasn’t sure how many people had been evacuated that day or how many cars might have been affected by the flooding.
He was also not sure whether they would be able to return to work in the building on Monday.