After the Flood

February 15, 1940

Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
1940: flooding

1940s flooding in Invercargill fails to prevent the bread getting through.

1940: flooding
A young cyclist is rescued by the tram from flood waters on Conon St, Invercargill

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Compared with the floods that occur in other parts of the world, and even in other parts of New Zealand, the water that overflowed yesterday from the Otepuni Creek was a very minor visitation.

For those persons not directly affected it was an event to be studied with interest and perhaps with the excitement inseparable from any departure from normality.

Citizens who had to travel through the flooded area to and from their work could imagine themselves engaged in an adventure sufficiently unusual to banish the monotony of unseasonable weather, and there are reports of incidents and escapes which have been diverting to onlookers - although not always to the victims.

But there is one aspect of the event, which cannot be treated lightly.

While for most people the flood was a spectacle or a subject of interested comment, there were other persons for whom it meant anxiety and heavy financial loss.

Householders have had to watch their homes invaded by water that will destroy carpets and other floor coverings, ruin wall paper and furniture, and cause much other damage to personal belongings.

From this point of view it is fortunate that the overflow, occurred in what is, strictly speaking, not a residential area.

But a sufficiently large number of homes was within reach of the water, and it is probably that in most cases there is no provision for financial compensation.

In the aggregate the damage to private property and goods not insured against floods may not be large, but is large enough to cause hardship, in some cases where it must be felt severely.

At such times it is difficult not to believe that the loss should be supported as far as possible by the total community.

There has been no large-scale disaster; but the difficulties of a minority, even if it is a comparatively small one, cannot be fairly ignored by the safe and comfortable majority.

The misfortune which now darkens these homes could be mitigated, and perhaps removed altogether, if the people of Invercargill regarded the effects of the flood as a collective responsibility.

One public-spirited citizen has already given a generous lead.

Should others care to follow his example, not matter how modestly, the city will be richer for a sense of communal spirit, worthily expressed.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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