Del­uge leads to flood­ing

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ERIN TASKER

Streets turned into rivers, prop­er­ties turned into lakes and peo­ple had to be evac­u­ated from their homes as the Mid Can­ter­bury and Sel­wyn ar­eas were hit by the worst rain event in years late last week.

The rain be­gan fall­ing on Fri­day, and fore­cast­ers had pre­dicted it would be bad, with a month’s worth of rain ex­pected to fall in a day. They were right. In Ash­bur­ton, where the av­er­age rain­fall for July was 64mm, 115mm was recorded on Fri­day.

Mid Can­ter­bury’s vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers were rushed off their feet help­ing res­i­dents whose prop­er­ties were be­ing in­un­dated and cars that had be­come trapped in flood wa­ters on Fri­day, as staff at Ash­bur­ton Con­tract­ing Lim­ited worked their fin­gers to the bone fill­ing sand bags. On Satur­day the army had to be called in to evac­u­ate res­i­dents liv­ing near the rapidly ris­ing Sel­wyn River.

Roads around Mid Can­ter­bury were closed. State High­way 1 be­tween Ash­bur­ton and Rolle­ston was closed on Fri­day, with the Rolle­ston to Rakaia sec­tion not re­open­ing un­til Sun­day morn­ing. For many hours Methven was cut off from Ash­bur­ton, with State High­way 77 im­pass­able.

Many sub­ur­ban Ash­bur­ton streets were also closed on Fri­day, as drains strug­gled to cope with the down­pour and wa­ter­ways like Mill Creek turned into rag­ing tor­rents. Al­though the rain had eased some­what by Satur­day, the im­pact was still be­ing felt. In Lochlea sub­di­vi­sion in Ash­bur­ton on Satur­day, Charlesworth Drive was en­tirely cov­ered by deep wa­ter, while wa­ter was still seep­ing into homes from streets in Netherby.

The del­uge was wide­spread, with a fair chunk of the South Is­land’s east coast ham­mered. Christchurch, Sel­wyn, Dunedin and the wider Otago re­gion were all placed in states of emer­gency, with an evac­u­a­tion or­der for the up­per and lower Sel­wyn Huts even­tu­ally lifted on Sun­day as the Sel­wyn River level dropped.

Up­per Sel­wyn Huts res­i­dents were al­lowed back mid-morn­ing fol­lowed by lower res­i­dents af­ter mid­day. Hut own­ers checked on their prop­er­ties and re­trieved be­long­ings, and the Sel­wyn District Coun­cil pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion for any­one who needed it again overnight.

On Satur­day, the army sent 120 troops in to help with flood-hit ar­eas in Can­ter­bury and Otago, as the may­hem over­whelmed emer­gency ser­vices.


Ash­bur­ton’s Charlesworth Drive cov­ered by flood wa­ter on Satur­day.

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