Flood­ing sign ‘sham­bles’ angers lo­cals

Clutha Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - MARY-JO TOHILL

A flood or­gan­i­sa­tion ‘‘sham­bles’’ in West Otago has prompted the for­ma­tion of a com­mu­nity work­ing group to bet­ter co-or­di­nate the place­ment and re­moval of flood warn­ing signs.

At a West Otago Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing at Ta­panui last Wed­nes­day, Athol Lawlor said the Clutha District Coun­cil’s or­gan­i­sa­tion dur­ing the July flood had been a sham­bles, par­tic­u­larly in He­riot-Kelso .

Flood signs were not put up in time, or in the cor­rect places, or taken down soon enough af­ter the flood, which caused con­fu­sion, ’’and that’s not good enough’’, he told mem­bers.

‘‘Where are the coun­cil’s pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures for flood events at Kelso?’’

Lawlor was crit­i­cal of road­ing con­trac­tor SouthRoads, which re­cently took over the coun­cil’s main­te­nance con­tract.

Clutha District Coun­cil op­er­a­tions man­ager Paul Jami­son, who was at the meet­ing, said SouthRoads staff had taken on board the con­cerns, ad­mit­ting that be­ing new to the area, didn’t have lo­cal knowl­edge about flood­ing, but would now be bet­ter equipped to deal with road­ing emer­gen­cies in the fu­ture.

‘‘In re­gards to a work­ing group, SouthRoads would be more than happy to work in with the com­mu­nity, but we can’t just have mem­bers of the com­mu­nity rush­ing out and putting out signs and cones, be­cause of health and safety is­sues,’’ he said.

West Otago Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber Suzanne Wink said the ‘‘sham­bolic sit­u­a­tion’’ with the signs was in­ex­cus­able, and she was ve­he­mently in favour of us­ing lo­cals, be­cause ‘‘peo­ple’s lives were at risk’’.

The com­mu­nity board agreed to meet with key mem­bers of the coun­cil’s road op­er­a­tions staff about the work­ing group, and to re­port back to the next meet­ing.

At the Lawrence-Tuapeka Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing, also held last Wed­nes­day, mem­bers ex­pressed con­cerns about main­te­nance is­sues with both Hospi­tal and Weather­stons creeks at Lawrence, which im­pacted on the town. The creeks had silted up, and needed to be cleaned more reg­u­larly, board mem­bers Ge­off David­son and Liz Ritchie said.

‘‘The main street should not have flooded like it did,’’ David­son said.

It was agreed that the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil be in­vited to talk to the com­mu­nity board about ways to mit­i­gate the ef­fects of flood­ing, at the next meet­ing.

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