Residents fear floods ignored by city council

17:00, Apr 11 2014

Flood-affected Sumner residents are concerned the Christchurch City Council has put all of its resources into the Flockton Basin, ignoring the plight of other flood-prone areas.

Last month's storm that caused pockets of houses across the city to be inundated with water also flooded properties in the seaside suburbs of Sumner and Redcliffs.

Concerned residents told The Press the problems were not new, and they worried the council was only focused on other areas, leaving their homes vulnerable whenever it rained.

Sharon McClure had just moved back to Sumner when the March 5 storm hit, destroying hundreds of items she had stored in the garage of her Paisley St property.

She felt lucky the water did not enter her house, but said the council should have done more to prevent the problem.

"This was the worst I've ever seen it. The flooding is not a once in a 100 year event for us."


McClure was "very impressed" with the council's plans for Flockton Basin, which proposed upgrading Dudley Creek to cope with more water, but she worried that work might have "taken all their resources".

"I don't think [the council's] really addressed our concerns that greatly."

The main issue in Sumner appeared to be an open drain running along Paisley St towards the sea, which was unable to cope with heavy rain, she said.

Gavin Hawke moved into his Wakefield St property only four months ago and found it "alarming" that the drain right outside his home could not cope with rain.

"There is nothing being done except clearing the drain now and then. No solutions have been put forward to us."

Nearby resident Janet Sirisomphone agreed that the state of the drain was an ongoing issue.

"There's not the capacity in there that there used to be. It was just really scary thinking that our house could be flooded."

Shipping containers acting as a rockfall barrier on Wakefield Ave had also contributed to last month's flooding issues by diverting water onto Paisley St.

"It's just one thing after another; you get to the point where your resilience starts to falter," Sirisomphone said.

"I make the joke that we've had everything, it's just pestilence left to come."

Mayor Lianne Dalziel acknowledged there were other areas in Christchurch at high risk of flooding and said the council was also looking at what could be done to help them. The work proposed in the Flockton Basin was part of a much wider programme of flood protection work.

"They have been prioritised because of the extreme level of flooding that has occurred in that area on a far too frequent basis."

Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said flood mitigation needed to be a priority for the council.

"There's a hell of a lot of work to do. I don't think we should wait until we have another flood."

Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board chairwoman Sara Templeton said a community meeting would be held in Sumner early next month, allowing residents to share their concerns with council staff.

A similar meeting in Heathcote last month had provided the council with a "huge amount of really valuable local knowledge".

Templeton said it was important for the council to act sooner rather than later on flooding issues.

"We can understand the focus on the Flockton area, but we need to make sure the council don't forget the other areas that were affected, like Sumner and Heathcote and Lyttelton."

Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly said a programme had been developed to address stormwater and draining issues across the city following the region's earthquakes.

About 50 individual projects had been identified, including in Sumner, and work was underway to assess the full extent of damage and prepare options for repair, he said.

"This is a priority for the council, however it is a complex issue and will take some time to address."

Gillooly said proposals for the Flockton Basin area had been fast-tracked because of the significant flooding of homes last month.

The Press