Heavy rain, flooding again in Christchurch
NICOLE MATHEWSON, JOELLE DALLY AND GLENN CONWAY
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Prime Minister John Key says it is "ridiculous" that Christchurch floods every time it rains, but the city needs to offer solutions.
He said the Government was reluctant to red-zone areas of Christchurch hit by flooding, as it was waiting for firm proposals from the Christchurch City Council regarding flood mitigation.
Rivers this morning broke their banks, flooded streets and inundated homes for the third time in 10 weeks after heavy rain overnight.
The city council said flooding was worse than expected despite the MetService yesterday warning up to 50mm of rain could fall.
Key said deciding to simply red zone large chunks of flood-hit areas was not the answer, for now at least.
"If we (the Government), on a whim, decided to red zone, you are talking up to 1000 properties and it would be clear to me that many would not want to move, especially if there has been no analysis done.''
That would not be fair to residents or taxpayers who would ultimately pay for such a move.
PM: 'YOU CAN'T HAVE A 100-YEAR-FLOOD EVERY TWO WEEKS'
Key said it was clear the flooding woes that had struck the city could not be allowed to continue unchecked.
"It's not credible for Flockton Basin residents. You can't have a 100-year flood every two weeks. It's ridiculous.''
The Government, though, was waiting for the council to provide proposals on solutions before it could act, Key said.
"You can't have people being flooded every time it rains in Christchurch. The situation needs to be resolved and resolved quickly.''
The prime minister's comments come after he told Newstalk ZB that the Government was not in a position to decide whether any further parts of Christchurch would be red-zoned.
"Ultimately this has the potential to affect hundreds and hundreds of homeowners and I can't tell you if the right answer is red zone," he said.
MAYOR: DON'T GET HUNG UP ON 'RED ZONING'
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said a flooding task force would present a report to council and central government by May 12.
She said the task force had been separated to allow them to focus on short-term solutions, rather than the longer-term projects such as the options to reduce flooding in the Flockton Basin.
Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly said the task force would officially start work tonight and that he would bring on as many people, from council, Scirt and other contractors, as needed to produce the report.
Dalziel said any talk about temporarily relocating people from flood-prone areas was different to red-zoning. Red-zoning was developed to address issues around earthquake-damaged land, she said.
"I don't think people should get hung up on the phrase 'red zone'," she said. "We are only really talking about land that can be remediated."
"It will be valuable land again in the future."
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EXHAUSTED RESIDENTS HIT AGAIN
Several streets in the area in and around the Flockton Basin have flooded for the third time in less than two months.
Lindsay Rush's home on Slater St has flooded nine times since the February 2011 earthquake. "We laugh at them, but I get a wee bit frustrated," he said.
Rush had lived in the house since 2009 and said it never flooded before the earthquakes.
Flockton Basin resident Julie Cairns said the floodwaters were only half a centimetre off entering her Archer St home this morning, but it was not as bad as it had been during other recent flooding events.
One of her toilets had been "taken out" because it was slightly lower than the rest of her house, but her sleepout had not been flooded this time.
"If I still had my car though - which I don't because I lost it in the March flood - I couldn't drive up the street."
Jo Byrne left her Carrick St home after the March 5 storm that caused widespread flooding across Christchurch.
Her home was one of about 80 inundated with water during that event, most in the Flockton area.
Chris Timbs has been at his Edgeware butchery since 3.30am, trying to keep the floodwaters out of his shop.
The Peter Timbs store was closed today, but staff expected to be at the site all day as they worked to remove water from the Edgeware Rd building.
"Sandbags have helped, but unfortunately it's above the foundations so it's coming in from the sides," Chris Timbs said.
A burst water main in Rose St this morning flooded Cashmere High School and forced the evacuation of one home.
Addington Fire Brigade station officer Murray Jamieson said the flooding had brought up mud "like liquefaction".
"It's turbulent. It's like Cook Strait in a major storm," he said.
Amir Hassan, his wife, and their five children under 5, evacuated their home about 9am after the torrent broke their fence and water spilled through to the back of the brand new property, where they have lived only four months.
FLOODWATERS MAY BE CONTAMINATED
The Christchurch City Council had geotechnical teams monitoring hillside areas for any signs of land instability including new cracking to land or buildings, existing cracks getting bigger, leaning or bulging of retaining walls, and rockfalls.
The council hjas also warned that floodwaters could be contaminated, and advised residents to avoid the water where possible or make sure to wash their hands and remove and wash any clothing that got wet.
Numerous streets across the city and Banks Peninsula were closed due to flooding.
BANKS PENINSULA HIT
Businesses and residents in Akaroa, Duvauchelle and Little River were yesterday still cleaning up from the last flooding 10 days ago, but had to restart the job after being inundated with water again today.
Little River Garage owner Malcolm Ussher said he planned to go home for a cup of coffee and "wait for the water to go away".
About 20cm of water had flooded the front of his garage, while a smaller volume had gone through the workshop at the back.
"We left everything up on Sunday because they said it was going to hit us yesterday at 6am."
He was tempted to leave everything up high after being flooded three times in less than three months. "But you can't really trade like that."
Ussher said he hoped to reopen the garage later today when the floodwaters receded, to "help our local customers".
Further south, North Otago and South Canterbury were also hit hard by the severe weather.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has advised that State Highway 1 at Hilderthorpe, north of Oamaru is closed due to flooding today.
NZTA also issued cautions for State Highway 83 between Pukeuri and Duntroon, State Highway 1 between Clarence and Hundalee, State Highway 75 between Little River and Akaroa and State Highway 8 between Twizel and Tekapo.
Meanwhile a heavy rain warning for Dunedin was lifted last night.
In the North Island, high winds were buffeting the capital this morning - however heavy showers forecast for the Tararua Ranges were expected to ease.
Air New Zealand was warning of some minor flight delays in and out of Wellington due to the strong winds and low cloud.
A Jetstar spokesman said there were no weather-related issues in Wellington this morning.
Wellington Airport was notifying a 50 minute delay on the 8.10am Wellington to Christchurch Jetstar flight.
Airways New Zealand spokeswoman Philippa Sellens said Wellington air traffic control was leaving a slightly larger gap between planes in Wellington this morning for safety reasons.
This could cause some delays but was ''perfectly normal'' in poor weather she said.
- The Press