Deluge closes SH1

Last updated 05:00 11/06/2014

Kaiapoi teenager Shi Robb was devastated to find her bedroom submerged after yesterday's North Canterbury floods.

SH1 closed due to flooding
Dean Kozanic Zoom
CLOSED: Flooding has closed SH1 between Waikuku and Amberley.
KNEE HIGH: Craig Robb and Shi Robb in her bedroom.

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North Canterbury motorists face a difficult commute this morning after enduring hellish conditions last night when floodwaters blocked a busy road during rush hour.

An average of 8700 vehicles travel the North Canterbury stretch of State Highway 1 between Waikuku and Amberley each day but it was last night closed to all cars apart from four-wheel-drives and freight vehicles during peak traffic because of extensive flooding.

Between 80 and 90 millimetres of rain fell in Rangiora in 24 hours to 6pm yesterday and about 52mm was recorded at Christchurch Airport during the same period.

Authorities were last night unsure whether the road would be open again by morning.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) performance manager Pete Connors said manned roadblocks would remain in place until flooding receded. A  severe weather warning for Canterbury was finally cancelled late last night, although more rainy spells were expected today.

Waimakariri District Council emergency operations centre controller Nick Harrison said the State Highway 1 road closure would have had a major impact on commuters.

Most people were ''understanding'' and motorists seemed to take it in their stride, he said.

Bryan McNabb, 66, navigated the section of road between Waikuku and Amberley in a small car yesterday morning.

McNabb, who was dropping a friend off in Amberley, said he could understand why the highway was later closed.

''Trucks and traffic going in [the] opposite direction were causing waves big enough to surf on. It was quite scary. The waves were smashing right over the bonnet and over the top of the car,'' he said.

Another section of State Highway 1, south of the city, was closed with a diversion in place from about 5pm after a crash in Templeton near of Marshs Rd.

Paul King used his four-wheel-drive to help a neighbour in Rangiora whose car ''conked out'' in deep water in Paisley Rd about noon.

His company, GraceWorks Demolition & Recycling Ltd, faces a substantial clean-up bill.

''We're calling in the insurance assessor, because we have got [water] through our sheds.''

A MetService spokeswoman said the rain was expected to continue today, but it would not be as heavy as yesterday.

Harrison said even with lighter rain fall ''we're not feeling that comfortable.''


The room was meant to be 14-year-old Shi Robb's new place to herself.

It was under her Kaiapoi home, away from her parents and right next to the garage where the stock car she recently got from her older brother sat. The room had been hers for three days.

Yesterday, she waded waist deep past the car and into her room to see what was left of it. There was a flat-screen TV and car calendars on the walls. Her drawers were underwater and her bed-frame could not be seen.

"It's just a shock to see it like this," she said.

When her dad, Craig, told her the property was flooding she came home from school. There were a few centimetres of water by 10am.

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"Just puddles," Robb said.

She started moving things just in case. An hour later, the water was almost waist deep and threatening to drown the Canterbury Speedway mini-stock champion's car.

"I saw that and I was just a wreck," she said. "I just fell apart. You couldn't stop it. All you could do was watch it."

It was the first time in the 14 years they had owned the house that the garage had flooded, Craig Robb said.

There was a pump going but there was little they could do, he said.

"All you can do is wait."

On the next road over, Andrew Boreham stood in water up to his knees and watched it rising. "The land has dropped. We know when it is going to come," he said. "So why don't they do something about it?"

It was his fourth flood since the Canterbury earthquakes. Both his sleepout and garage were flooded.

He had started having a conversation with his wife about walking away from their property, which still had a mortgage on it.

"You have got to give up some time."

Residents made their way back home for high tide fearing that it might push the water levels up. Others had never left, including Raquel Gourley, who was making sure her 73-year-old mother was coping as the waters rose around her.

"Surely they should be doing something. This just makes things harder."

In Rangiora, Amy Crowe woke at 2am in the morning to the sound of gurgling. She thought there was something wrong with the bathroom. Then she saw the water. It rushed down the street towards her property.

"It was a little scary but you just get into the mode and move things," she said.

Cowe and husband John tried to the stem the tide by lining up wheelie bins and pieces of plaster board. When Civil Defence arrived, it was suggested they allow the water to run through their property. Crowe had already spent the morning vacuuming her carpet free of water.

- The Press


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