Flooding chaos across Canterbury

Flooding traps residents in their home

CAROLINE KING, RACHEL YOUNG AND STACEY KIRK
Last updated 21:46 13/08/2012

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A band of heavy rain moving across the South Island may cause further flooding and slips in Canterbury, MetService says.

Flooding trapped residents in the Banks Peninsula township of Little River in their homes and rising waters also threatened homes in Christchurch and Lyttleton.

MetService said a band of rain was expected to move onto the east of Otago overnight and onto Canterbury south of the Waimakariri River tomorrow morning. The rain was forecast to ease Wednesday morning.

The rain was likely to cause more flooding and slips because the ground was already saturated from today's downpours.

Dave Watson, owner of Koa Cottage in Little River, said this afternoon that water had "surrounded" his house.

"It's not just pooling around the property, it's flowing as the river has burst its banks. The fire brigade came around and told us not to leave unless we had a four-wheel drive. We're just stuck inside and trying to keep dry and warm."

Watson said Lake Forsyth had been unable to empty into the sea and had been blown back into the township by strong southerlies.

"It's worst at high tide. It's been receding a bit now that high tide is over, but there's another one due tonight. That's a danger period for us. It's not quite as bad as last October yet, but it's getting close."

Other properties had been "engulfed" by the water, Watson said.

"The fire brigade told us the water had been flowing into other houses which are lower than ours."

"The water was so high it was even covering the white line on the road," Watson said.

In the Little River Garage, the water was ankle-deep.

Owner Malcolm Ussher said he had lifted all the stock off the ground and turned the power off.

"It was raining pretty hard and the water started coming in to the store at about 9.30am. We did all we could, so hopefully there isn't any damage. "

The Christchurch-Akaroa Rd has been closed, with a number of slips on the road between Lyttelton and Governors Bay.

Akaroa has also seen a number of slips and trees coming down on to roads.

Have you been affected by flooding? Send us your stories and photos. Email: reporters@press.co.nz.

Get the latest on road closures, river levels and weather forecasts.

Ute crashes in wet conditions

A ute went over a bank in Governors Bay this afternoon after skidding in wet conditions.

The incident happened at about 2pm on Bamfords Rd.

Police, fire and ambulance services attended the scene.

St John treated three people after the accident, one of whom was taken to Moorhouse Medical Centre with a possible arm injury.

A St John spokesman they had not had an increased number of incidents due to the flooding.

"I think most people are probably trying to drive carefully due to the weather."

Flooding in Oxford

A normally dry creek on a property near Oxford turned into a torrent that came within millimetres of flooding a house.

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Neill Laurenson woke about 7am to discover his creek on his 10 acre Oxford Rd block had turned into a strong flowing river, which was up to his waist.

Debris pushed by the  force of the creek, situated behind the back of Laurenson's home, had become trapped in the fence line impacting the flow of water.

Laurenson said the water had started going "left to right" pushing it even closer to his home.

At one point, Laurenson estimated the flow was about 15mm from the front door.

He knew the fences had to be cut to assist the flow of the creek.

"I could've cut the fences myself but all my gear was in a shipping container that was under water," he said.

Laurenson called the fire service who came and assisted.

St Albans street a 'nightmare'

A badly flooded St Albans street has been described as a "nightmare" by some of its residents.

Harrison St residents said the road had problems with flooding before, but never like this.

Just days after Andrea Cummings moved into her St Albans home, she was forced to evacuate.

Cummings moved into her Harrison St rental property on Friday after relocating from Rangiora to help with the rebuild, working closely with Christchurch City councillor Glenn Livingstone on the 100-day housing plan.

She had not even had time to unpack when she made the decision to leave at midnight on Sunday as the water was just three inches away from flooding her house.

She packed "one bag" with important documents, laptops and a change of clothes for her and her children, aged 11 and 7.

A friend with a four-wheel-drive vehicle then helped them evacuate.

At the time, Cummings estimated parts of the road were covered in over a metre of water.

When Cummings returned home this morning "dreading" what she would find, she was surprised to see the water had subsided.

"Coming back I didn't know if that [one bag] was all my worldly possessions. But it's gone down a wee bit from what it was. Last night it was up to my bottom - and I'm quite a tall person," she said.

She said her children were up to their "arm pits" with water last night.

"The car across the street had rubbish floating in the footwell. It was pretty crazy."

Fellow Harrison St resident Chris McLeod's drove his four-wheel-drive truck down the street this morning, but the footwell got flooded.

Amy Helem and Luke Thomas said the flooding was a "nightmare".

Helem said she was concerned it was just the beginning and that it was "only going to get worse".

"We're just keeping an eye on it,'' she said.

''We're a bit worried, especially if it keeps going, which it's supposed to."

Thomas said it was the third time the street had flooded during the year they had lived there.

However, it was never this bad, he said.

The couple said the council had done a lot of work in the street to help resolve the issue, which they believed was largely caused by the earthquakes.

Okains Bay cut off

Okains Bay resident Amour Ryan said the main road into they bay was cut off because of a slip.

"It is just awful," she said.

The water covered the roads last night, making it impossible to drive.

She knew of one resident who had left this morning as the roads had cleared but was stuck at the top of the hill as there had been slips in Summit Rd and now there had now been slips in Okains Bay Rd.

"Thay can't come back and they can't go forward."

Ryan said they were expecting the roads to close in the town again when high tide hit this afternoon.

But as they knew bad weather had been predicted, they were prepared to be cut off for a couple of days.

Lyttelton homes threatened by flood

The situation in Lyttelton is "about 100 per cent better than where it was at about midnight last night", says the town's chief fire officer, Mark Buckley.

"We've still got a lot of surface water, like you do in the rest of the Christchurch, but it's not as bad as what it was. The rainfall hasn't been as significant to this point."

He said some problems stemmed from a blocked stormwater catchment at the top of Canterbury St that saw water overflow instead of going down drains.

"With the water travelling down Canterbury St, it's breached a couple of areas where [the council] were working on retention walls, which were already in a bit of strife. It's actually undermined the road and the retention wall,'' he said.

"With daylight, at least the council can go in and do some repairs. Hopefully it will resolve the issues we are having."

Some residents braved the wild weather to try to stop water going into their homes last night.

Julia Sugarman, who lives in Exeter St, said that about 10pm she went downstairs to check if any rain was coming inside their earthquake-damaged home.

A "river" had formed outside and water was running into her house.

"I saw the mini-river rushing down the pathway and I thought, 'That's not good'."

Her husband, Nat, ran to their neighbours while she rang the Fire Service.

Neighbours and firefighters helped to place sandbag near the houses, cleared drains and shovelled gravel and stones into piles to stop the newly formed river threatening properties.

They worked for about 90 minutes.

This morning, the Sugarman family were dry but their carpet and wooden floors were damaged.

Julia Sugarman said they were thankful the rain had eased.

She planned to stay inside today with her 4-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son as leaving involved climbing over a makeshift gravel bank.

She said she would call her insurance company today.

Resident Rowena Laing said the wall at the top of Canterbury St was washed out, with the falling shingle and rocks blocking storm waterdrains and creating a flood.

"A river of water went into the western end of Exeter St.

Neighbourhood men and the local volunteer fire brigade put sandbags in place and shovelled the shingle and rocks," she said.

"One house in Exeter St had water go into its downstairs rooms. The men created a dam with the rocks and shingle and stopped further flooding of the house.

"Water was eventually diverted down Canterbury St, where it then went into stormwater drains further down the hill."

Andrea Ferrar said the efforts were "amazing".

"The amazing volunteer fire brigade have saved houses on Voelas Rd from being flooded by diverting the flow of water using wooden planks and sandbags,'' she said.

"Cars had to be moved across the street as water gushed over the bonnets."

- The Press

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