Flood waters rise in east Christchurch
NICOLE MATHEWSON, TOM HUNT AND SIOBHAN DOWNES
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Flood waters in Christchurch could rise overnight, prompting council staff to warn householders to take action to protect belongings and property.
The Christchurch City Council has opened a welfare centre for those people threatened by flood waters in the east of the city.
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Council staff have been door-knocking in areas around Flockton and Aylesford streets to warn residents, and several streets in the area have been closed to traffic.
At least 20 households have been recommended to take action, and some households have been advised to evacuate.
Already today parts of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula have received up to 50 millimetres of rain, with more predicted to fall overnight.
Christchurch city is expected to get a further 30mm, while parts of Banks Peninsula could get another 50-80mm, said MetService meteorologist Leigh Matheson.
Meanwhile in Wellington, debris is washing up on coastal roads, with police warning drivers to take care.
The storm front, which has moved up the country, is causing rocks and other debris to wash up on roads around Moa Point in Wellington and on Marine Parade near Eastbourne, Senior Sergeant Marc Clausen said.
The roads remain open but high tide is approaching at 9.30pm. Contractors are on the way to clear the roads but lausen said drivers should be careful.
Earlier, all three Interislander ferries were suspended from sailing across Cook Strait as strong winds hit the centre of the country.
A review will take place later tonight to decide whether the ferries will sail tomorrow, a KiwiRail spokeswoman says.
Heavy rain and gusts of up to 120kmh were forecast for the capital this evening, MetService forecaster Tuporo Marsters said.
The front created high seas in the Strait, with a swell of up to 9.5 metres. The Kaitaki ferry turned back towards Picton this afternoon and the two Interislander ferries were later suspended.
Both Bluebridge ferries were still sailing but passengers on tonight's crossings have been warned to expect delays or cancellations.
Wet weather also affected Wellington-area commuters on the Johnsonville Line, with at least one cancellation and further delays.
Off the Kapiti Coast two boaties had to be rescued after their fishing vessel broke down on the water between Kapiti and Mana Islands.
The pair were towed back to shore by the coastguard amid heavy swells and were being looked after by police at the Mana Esplanade, senior launch master Richard Kennedy of Maritime Police said.
Severe weather warnings were in place for Wellington and Wairarapa.
The wind would be comparable to the wind that has been causing chaos in Christchurch, where roofs were ripped off, power supplies cut and trees toppled earlier today.
Marsters said the gales would continue to howl into the evening in the lower North Island - especially at exposed coastal areas - and would start to let up tomorrow morning. However, strong gusts were also forecast tomorrow.
Emergency services received dozens of calls in the Canterbury region this morning.
Two people were trapped in a car near the Waimakariri River after gales knocked powerlines down around their vehicle.
The incident happened just before 11am at Kainga - about halfway between Christchurch and Kaiapoi.
A Fire Service spokesman said the pair waited in their vehicle until Orion staff were able to make sure no electricity was running through the lines and firefighters were able to help them get out safely.
The pair were not injured during the incident.
Another person had also needed to be rescued when trees fell on their vehicle, bringing powerlines down at the same time.
The driver was not injured, but a cautious approach had been needed because of the risk of electrocution from the downed powerlines, the spokesman said.
BANKS PENINSULA CUT OFF
The strong winds also cut power to about 5000 homes on Banks Peninsula and Christchurch.
Outages were reported in the Akaroa bays including Okains, Le Bons Bay, Takamatua and Duvauchelle. Little River has also had a power cut.
In Canterbury, Kaiapoi, Ohoko, Doyleston, Irwell and Leeston also lost power.
In Christchurch, Marshlands, Belfast, Papanui and Spencerville homes suffered outages.
Lines company Orion said it was restoring power as quickly as possible.