Heavy rain, flooding again in Christchurch

NICOLE MATHEWSON AND SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 09:03 29/04/2014

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The Government is prepared to help homeowners in flood-prone areas but is still waiting for a council proposal, says John Key.

Turbulent floodwaters have forced homes to be evacuated and dozens of streets closed as rain pounds Christchurch again. 

Flooding has been heavier than forecast, with almost 50mm falling in the last 24 hours causing authorities to fear further hillside slips.

Prime Minister John Key, who was due to visit Christchurch this afternoon, told Newstalk ZB that the Government was not in a position to decide whether any further parts of Christchurch would be red-zoned.

"We're not in a position to make that decision yet. 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."

The Government was "prepared to help", but the Christchurch City Council needed to take the lead, he said.

"We still haven't received a proposal from the council yet and we need to get that proposal.

"It can't go on like this. It's a ridiculous scenario for people and they're entitled to know what can be done to fix it."

Several streets in the Flockton Basin area have flooded for the third time in less than two months.

The MetService said 45mm of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours and another 20mm is expected to fall this morning.


Is your street or home flooding? Send your pictures to newsflow@press.co.nz


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."

She also feared the floodwaters had reached some of the floorboards under her house because the property was not level.

Cairns said neither of the Christchurch City Council's proposals to upgrade nearby Dudley Creek to ease flooding risks in the Flockton area would help her property.

"You're nearly at a stage where what more can you do."

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.

She was now staying with other family in Shirley, but had been in touch with other flood-affected Flockton residents this morning.

"I think there's a lot of very tired and depressed people in the area, especially some of the older residents who are very vulnerable."

The flooding was not as bad as it had been previously, but many properties were already "unlivable" and the area could not cope with any more water.

"In one way, we're old hands at flooding, so everybody has everything stored up high. There's not much you can do except wait for the water to subside," Byrne said.

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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.

He was using two pumps to move water out of the building. "I'm not that happy really. It's just frustrating."

He believed the building had slumped forward in Canterbury's major earthquakes, as the front of the shop had not flooded this much before the quakes, he said.

WARNING OVER FLOODED CITY STREETS

Motorists have also been advised to take care at the intersection of Durham St and Moorhouse Ave after traffic lights failed about 7.15am today.

Parts of Flockton St,  Warrington St, Barbadoes St, Edward Ave, Rivers Rd, Thornton St, Speights St, Harrison St and Carrick St have been closed this morning, as well as Eastern Tce and Deans Ave between Moorhouse Ave and Riccarton Rd. 

State Highway 73 from Port Hills Rd to Tunnel Rd, in Heathcote, has also experienced flooding in the city-bound lane, the Summit Rd has been closed between the Sign of the Kiwi and Gebbies Pass.

Restrictions are also in place because of surface flooding on Madras St, Barbadoes St, Bealey Ave, the Fitzgerald Ave bridge, the intersection of Colombo and Brougham streets, Opawa Rd, and the Northwood roundabout.

In the Waimakariri District, the Ashley Bridge closed at 6am because of rising river levels, and all fords in the district had been closed. 

Last night Christchurch City Council acting general manager infrastructure Terry Howes said contractors were clearing storm drains and sumps in vulnerable areas.

The council advised drivers to drive slowly through any surface flooding to minimise wake affecting neighbouring houses.

BANKS PENINSULA HIT

State Highway 75 from Little River to Akaroa was severely flooded and had been closed again  this morning, cutting off Akaroa from the rest of the region. 

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". 

Last month Christchurch and Banks Peninsula were swamped with a one in 100-year flood.

Bank Peninsula Christchurch City Cr Andrew Turner said all options, including considering abandoning areas continually flooded, had to be considered for the area.

"We've got to work out what the correct solutions are to resolve the issues. And if that issue is around catchment, or the lake [Forsyth], or the infrastructure in the township or issues over where people are actually living and whether we need to take a view with climate change, we need to put all issues on the table," he said.

The city council's report on sea level rise by Tonkin & Taylor said areas of Christchurch may need to abandoned due to rising oceans and land dropping from the earthquakes.

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, heavy showers forecast for the Tararua Ranges were expected to ease this morning.

Auckland has this morning been hit by showers, after managing to escape the worst of yesterday's weather forecast. There was a chance of some early thunder and hail, MetService said.

- Fairfax Media

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