Lawrence begins post-flood recovery
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.’’
Gabriel’s Cafe & Bar owner Reuben Hinton, right, with employee Daniel Ferguson, temporarily on loan from 26 on Ross Cafe.
Lawrence was badly hit by flooding at the town’s western end. Two of its four cafes closed due to water damage.