States of emergency
Canterbury and Otago have been pounded by one of the heaviest downpours on record.
Dunedin, Timaru, Waitaki and the wider Otago region declared states of emergencies and homes were evacuated as flooding took hold yesterday.
A bank collapsed on a house in Oamaru, and emergency services were called to assist the family inside.
A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said nobody was hurt.
A major slip blocked the southbound lane of the Duned-into-Port Chalmers road at Pride Corner, and a police spokeswoman said a power pole was at a 30 degree angle.
She said there had been a lot of slips south of Oamaru in the Otago coastal area.
The army was also called to assist Civil Defence in Timaru and to take a sick Oamaru child to Dunedin.
Homes were also flooded in Ashburton and eastern Christchurch, while cars were pulled from floodwaters near Rakaia, 1000 properties lost power in Mid Canterbury, State Highway 1 was closed in several locations and residents around the region were evacuated from flooded homes.
With floodwaters already high between Christchurch and North Otago, councils, emergency services and Civil Defence were prepared for things to worsen with more rain forecast throughout today.
Over 30 homes were evacuated in Henley, south of Dunedin. Civil Defence recommended residents in Mosgiel and other areas prepare for evacuation.
South Canterbury residents were also told to self evacuate if necessary.
The fronts brought a deluge of rain and high winds from early yesterday onwards as forecast, with inland, south and mid Canterbury bearing the brunt.
Dunedin, where the most rain was forecast to fall last night, was expecting 94 millimetres of rain up until 9am today when conditions were expected to ease. By 8.45pm last night, 44mm of that had fallen.
Timaru had received 67mm of rain in 12 hours yesterday, more than its average July rainfall of 40mm. Oamaru had its wettest July day on record with 76.6mm of rain.
Met Service said the heaviest falls still to come were expected in Canterbury south of Arthur’s Pass and about eastern Otago where another 60mm of rain could fall through to today.
Snow was also likely to 400 metres over Central Otago and northern parts of Southland last night.
Met Service expected light snow to settle in Lewis and Arthur’s passes today. Snow in Lindis Pass could be between 5 and 10cm deep.
In the worst-hit parts of South and Mid-Canterbury, residents were told to prepare for evacuation at short notice.
Timaru District Council Civil Defence shift controller Justin Bagust said about 30 people near Temuka had evacuated to a welfare centre.
Civil Defence would continue monitoring local river levels overnight. The army was called into help and Red Cross said they were on standby to help.
Christchurch fared better, with rivers breaking their banks and surface flooding mainly affecting traffic. The city had about 48mm of rain yesterday.
No road accidents were reported in Christchurch due to the heavy rain, but motorists were urged to take care as surface flooding remained an issue. An unexpected late storm surge swelled levels in the Avon-Heathcote Estuary in the city during yesterday afternoon, flooding parts of Redcliffs and Southshore. Roads were closed along both the Heathcote and Avon Rivers after they broke their banks.
SH1 was open to north-bound traffic only between Dunsandel and Timaru and closed from Timaru to Oamaru.
Tim Horne, who farms off
Farmer Tim Horne
SH79 between Geraldine and Fairlie, described the downpour in South Canterbury as ‘‘pretty bad’’ and spent yesterday moving stock to higher ground and feeding out.
‘‘With us, everything’s just flooding and paddocks that were normally fine have turned into big streams.
‘‘The rain’s just come in so fast. It’s just incredible how quick it’s come in. We’re trying to get all the animals fed and all the tracks are underwater.
‘‘Many parts of the road are near impassable and conditions are treacherous. Essential travel only and roads may close at short notice,’’ the New Zealand Transport Agency advised.
SH77 and 79 were also closed, as were river bridges and streets in many centres. The inland Kaikoura route closed for hours because of multiple slips and rockfalls. Emergency services were flat out.
Fire and Emergency NZ had close to 90 callouts across Canterbury during the peak of the deluge yesterday.
Spokesman Riwai Grace said staff had been ‘‘under the pump’’.
‘‘It seems to have bypassed Christchurch, but it has hit the outer Canterbury region pretty hard.’’
Some people had been rescued after being trapped in cars by floodwaters and some houses were flooded, Grace said.
Most of the affected areas are expected to get more rain today, with heavy falls forecast across Canterbury especially in the foothills and ranges.
‘‘The rain’s just come in so fast. It’s just incredible how quick it’s come in. We’re trying to get all the animals fed and all the tracks are under water.’’