Flood alerts ‘high’ near lakes

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF RE­PORTERS

WANAKA and Queen­stown were on high alert last night, as their lake lev­els neared flood lev­els.

Some busi­nesses be­gan sand­bag­ging in Wanaka last night, as wa­ter started lap­ping at the base of the wa­ter­side of­fice of wa­ter­craft hire busi­ness Lake­land Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka’s wa­ters were sit­ting just be­low flood level last night ac­cord­ing to Otago Re­gional Coun­cil mon­i­tors, and the Met Ser­vice was pre­dict­ing more heavy rain.

The Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing pro­vid­ing sand and sand­bags in the town from this morn­ing.

It said with the risk of flood­ing in low­ly­ing parts of Ard­more St pre­dicted by ORC mod­el­ling, it had de­cided to pro­vide pro­tec­tion mea­sures for con­cerned busi­nesses and prop­erty own­ers as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure.

The con­di­tions and pre­dic­tions would be re­viewed early this morn­ing.

If needed, sand and sand­bags would be avail­able from the Dun­more St car park.

Roads in the Ard­more St area would also be closed if need be.

Wanaka was drenched by 13.6mm of rain be­tween noon and 4pm, hav­ing ear­lier had 9mm fall be­tween 2am and 4am.

Queen­stown also had an early morn­ing down­pour, as 14mm fell be­tween 2am and 4am, with a fur­ther 7.6mm fall­ing be­tween noon and 2pm.

ORC gauges also classed Lake Wakatipu as be­ing at high alert.

The Met Ser­vice is­sued a heavy rain warn­ing last night, which pre­dicted 100mm­150mm of rain about the main divide, with 70mm­120mm of rain within 20km fur­ther east.

Rain ham­mered the West Coast, where more than 400mm was recorded on the moun­tains in the area, and 324mm recorded closer to sea level at Mil­ford Sound.

‘‘Fur­ther pe­ri­ods of heavy rain are ex­pected for the rest of this week, and ad­di­tional warn­ings will likely be is­sued closer to each event,’’ Met Ser­vice said.

Lake Wakatipu was likely to be

close to the level where wa­ter lev­els could in­un­date low ly­ing lake­side re­serves (in­clud­ing in the vicin­ity of Glenorchy) and en­ter the stormwa­ter sys­tem in Queen­stown this morn­ing.

Strong winds were also fore­cast, which could cause waves, and boat users were urged to be aware of sub­merged logs and other de­bris.

In Wanaka, Jarvie Plumb­ing took the pre­cau­tion about 5pm yes­ter­day of sand­bag­ging around the BNZ in Ard­more St, which it looks af­ter. It would be back at 5am to­day to check on the build­ing.

Other Wanaka busi­nesses,

in­clud­ing Lake­land Wanaka, moved equip­ment and fit­tings to higher ground.

Of­fice man­ager Amanda Grant said be­cause the build­ing was on stilts it was all right last night, but the com­pany would re­assess the sit­u­a­tion to­day.

Deep Canyon, which op­er­ates from the same build­ing, has also moved equip­ment out.

Gen­eral man­ager Ros Goulding said the com­pany was still op­er­a­tional, but like many tourism op­er­a­tors, the sit­u­a­tion would have an af­fect fi­nan­cially.

‘‘It’s su­per dis­rup­tive to ev­ery­one . . . es­pe­cially right on Christ­mas.’’

Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen owner Sam Blatch said the sit­u­a­tion was ‘‘looking pretty se­ri­ous’’ about 3.45pm.

Per­sis­tent rain through­out the day, par­tic­u­larly heavy at times, had filled the catch­ments and rivers were rag­ing, prompt­ing the town to go on alert.

‘‘Wa­ter is touch­ing the lit­tle log cabin [on the lake front],’’ he said.

‘‘The main wharf is com­pletely un­der wa­ter, you can’t even see the posts stick­ing out.’’

The rain also closed sev­eral South Is­land roads and forced the clo­sure of the Tua peka Mouth punt bridge on the Clutha.

A Clutha District Coun­cil spokesman said the strong river flow put the bridge in dan­ger of be­ing swept away.

“It’s been go­ing at 1200cumecs for the past day or so. It’s pre­dicted to get to 1400cumecs by mid­night tonight.”

He said it hap­pened “ev­ery two or three years”

.Trees came down around the re­gion, and var­i­ous roads were closed.

Met Ser­vice fore­caster Ger­ard Bel­lam said a pat­tern of storms reached Dunedin just be­fore 1pm.

‘‘They were kind of gone by 2.30. You had a pe­riod there where you had heavy rain com­ing out of those thun­der­storms.’’

This was caused by a warm northerly front flow­ing across the coun­try ahead of a cold front.

To­day, a nor’ west­erly flow would pass through Dunedin and a max­i­mum of 23degC was ex­pected.

There would be a short pe­riod of rain in the morn­ing.

Au­thor­i­ties are mon­i­tor­ing two 20­foot ship­ping con­tain­ers that are float­ing on the Buller River.

Buller Civil Defence said the two con­tain­ers be­came dis­lodged from a prop­erty in Murchi­son in yes­ter­day af­ter­noon’s heavy rain.

PHO­TOS: KERRIE WATERWORTH, JACK CON­ROY & NZTA

Tak­ing preven­tive mea­sures . . . Jarvie Plumbers flood proof­ing the Wanaka BNZ branch yes­ter­day af­ter­noon ahead of a po­ten­tial flood this morn­ing. Right, from top: Wa­ter was at the back door of Lake­land Wanaka’s wooden cabin by yes­ter­day af­ter­noon; a dig­ger clears a slip at Lake Gunn on State High­way 94, in Fiord­land, yes­ter­day morn­ing; the Tuapeka Mouth punt on­ramp has been closed af­ter be­ing partly sub­merged un­der the ris­ing Clutha River.

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