Lawrence be­gins post-flood re­cov­ery

Clutha Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MARY-JO TOHILL

The flood wa­ters may have re­ceded quickly, but it will still be a while be­fore the Lawrence busi­ness com­mu­nity re­cov­ers from the re­cent Can­ter­bury-Otago storm.

The South Otago gold­min­ing town is with­out two of its four cafes, af­ter flood wa­ters dam­aged the premises, with nine other busi­nesses af­fected.

The main street cafes closed for re­pairs last week, and were not ex­pected to re-open for at least four weeks.

Gabriel’s Cafe and Bar owner Reuben Hin­ton said win­ter was usu­ally his quiet time, but now he was as busy as the sum­mer months.

The Hin­tons have had to change their busi­ness hours to be open early to late, to pro­vide a day­time cafe, as well as night time din­ing, and they’ve had to find three more staff to cope.

How­ever, it was re­gret­table that Gabriel’s gain was the re­sult of other peo­ples’ loss in this tightknit busi­ness com­mu­nity, he said ’’My heart goes out to them.’’

He had watched with grow­ing alarm as Lawrence’s his­toric main street turned into a lake on Fri­day July 21, be­tween 6.30pm9.30pm.

He and wife Shel­ley live in the up­stairs part of the 1886 for­mer Bank of New Zealand build­ing that houses their cafe-bar, at the west­ern end of town, where the high­way slopes down­ward.

The nearby creeks had backed up, and drains and cul­verts were over­whelmed by the flood.

‘‘It was quite un­real see­ing it all hap­pen - and it hap­pened fast.’’

He left his din­ers to their meals in­side, and joined a com­mu­nity sand bag­ging team, con­sist­ing of the Lawrence fire brigade, com­mu­nity, and later the Lawrence Rugby Club, af­ter cap­tain Ben Mar­tin, who hap­pened to be eat­ing at the restau­rant, ral­lied other mem­bers.

Thanks to a big com­mu­nity ef­fort, the Hin­ton’s prop­erty was saved from the flood wa­ters, which stopped at the sec­ond to top step. ’’I think it just proves what a great com­mu­nity we’ve got.’’

Twenty four hours later, noone would have known there was a flood, he said. In fact, Lawrence was look­ing so nor­mal, it was down­right puz­zling to pass­ing visi­tors, 26 on Ross Cafe em­ployee Daniel Fer­gu­son, on loan to Gabriel’s, said.

‘‘Peo­ple are con­fused about why there’s only one cafe open in town.’’

MARY-JO TOHILL/STUFF

Gabriel’s Cafe & Bar owner Reuben Hin­ton, right, with em­ployee Daniel Fer­gu­son, tem­po­rar­ily on loan from 26 on Ross Cafe.

MARY-JO TOHILL

Lawrence was badly hit by flood­ing at the town’s west­ern end. Two of its four cafes closed due to wa­ter dam­age.

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