Flooding, winds trigger emergency
Emergency services were last night expecting a ‘‘long night’’ as heavy rain and gale-force winds swept across the South Island.
Timaru is under a state of emergency, while new storm clouds coming over the Southern Alps towards Canterbury could bring more rain.
Fire Service spokesman Riwai Grace there had been 80-90 callouts across Canterbury since 9am, and the worst of the weather was heading south. ’’It’s heading down towards Oamaru and Timaru.
‘‘It seems to have bypassed Christchurch but it has hit the outer Canterbury region pretty hard. We’ve been under the pump for six hours now.’’
As of 3pm, the Timaru District Council said it had declared a state of emergency.
The Timaru Civil Defence emergency operations centre had earlier warned people in particularly flood-prone areas that they should be making preparations in case they have to evacuate at short notice.
Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher said the flooding was the worst he had seen in 10 years but there were no current plans to declare a state of emergency. He said several people had selfevacuated.
The Oamaru Volunteer Fire Brigade was on call and had been helping residents clear water out of houses and garages.
Rakaia Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Tryone Burrowes said vehicles became trapped in floodwaters with people inside, at Thompsons Track near Rakaia in Canterbury. Up to 10 cars had to be pulled from floodwaters, with waves breaking over the bonnet of smaller cars.
Members of the Lauriston Volunteer Fire Brigade, as well as several private tow companies, helped pull stranded motorists from the flood.
Methven had been effectively cut off by road flooding.
Manager of the town’s Blue Pub, Casey Crawford, said the business was ‘‘like a creche’’ because of the weather.
’’No-one can get in and out of Methven and we’re one of only three businesses that trade during the day.
‘‘Right now [patrons are] all travelling tourists, who have either come praying that the mountain [skifield] will open over the weekend, or they’re actually tradespeople who can’t get out of town right now.’’
Canterbury north of the Rakaia River was expected to get 100-150mm of rainfall, while South Canterbury and North Otago were expected to get 140-180mm.
‘‘Muppet drivers’’ were not helping with flooding in residential areas, Grace said.
’’Idiots are racing down flooded streets causing waves which is then pushing water into houses, and then expecting us to come and pull them out when they get stuck.’’
In some cases, the flooding had ‘‘affected the whole street’’. A registrar of affected houses was being complied, he said.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) closed State Highway 1 between Pukeuri, about 9km north of Oamaru, and Morven in South Canterbury. Journey manager Lee Wright said it was ‘‘a major event’’.
‘‘There are no safe detour routes off [SH1] because they are all significantly flooded as well. We’re really advising anyone travelling south of Christchurch to delay their journey.’’
SH79 between Fairlie and Geraldine, SH77 between Ashburton and Methven, SH83 between Pukeuri and Peebles and Pukeuri and Duntroon, SH82 between Waimate and Kurow, and SH85 between Omakau and Idaburn are also closed.
Further north, slips and rockfalls had caused the closure of the inland route up the South Island from Christchurch to Picton – route 70 – from Waiau to Peketa. It will remain closed until at least 9am today.
A road snowfall warning was issued by the MetService for Lewis Pass, Lindis Pass, and for State Highway 1 north of Dunedin – the Dunedin to Waitati Highway.
Massive waves hit Dunedin as the edges of the storm reached the city.
Dozens of people bagged and collected sandbags at the St Clair tennis courts on Victoria Rd, Dunedin, over fears of a repeat of the 2015 floods.
Dunedin is expected to get 150-200mm of rain between early yesterday and noon today.
Aucklanders are bracing for another night of bad weather, with more heavy rain and possibly thunder and hail on the way.
MetService duty forecaster Larissa Marintchenko warned yesterday afternoon the deluge would not let up for another 24 hours.
Residents could look forward to some fine spells this afternoon as the rain was expected to ease to showers, Marintchenko said.
However, the strong winds would hang around with gale-force winds forecast for exposed areas.
A severe weather watch was in place for Auckland and Northland.
The rain wasn’t enough to deter Cameron King from jumping on his scooter in Timaru yesterday. Residents in flood-prone areas of the district were advised to be ready to evacuate.