Bad weather brought extensive flooding in Westland last week, affecting towns along the west coast of the South Island. In 48 hours over Tuesday and Wednesday, this region experienced more than a meter of rainfall. Hokitika has been flooded and some homes have been evacuated and the contents of an old rubbish dump have been washed down onto the beaches. State Highway 73 from Franz Josef to Fox Glacier has been closed because of a slip, and the town of Haast has been without power for six days now. A woman was swept away by flood waters and drowned in Arahura Valley on 27 March.
A bridge and some of the stop-banks along the river were swept away in Franz Josef. The bridge is part of State Highway 6 that runs down the West Coast. The West Coast is a narrow stretch of land along the coast of the South Island, it runs between sea and mountain, and there is no other way to travel down the West Coast.
The local government are facing a big clean-up on many fronts, but right now heavy rain is continuing in Westland and the rainy weather is expected to head north.
coast: the area of land next to the sea
rainfall: the amount of water that comes down when it rains
rubbish dump: a place where people put their trash
slip: a mass of earth that falls down a mountain or hillside
swept away: carried away by water
a stretch of land: a long, narrow area of land
on many fronts: this can mean in many physical areas, or dealing with many different problems
head (north): go (north)
Talking about roads: fill in the gaps