Flood­ing, winds trig­ger emer­gency

Waikato Times Weekend - - NEWS - FAIR­FAX RE­PORTERS

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.

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