Flooding adds to commuting hell

ANNA PEARSON AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 08:07 11/06/2014

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State Highway 1 has reopened in North Canterbury, but motorists face a difficult commute as surface flooding continues to cause problems. 

An average of 8700 vehicles travel the North Canterbury stretch of State Highway 1 between Waikuku and Amberley each day.

The road closed yesterday and overnight due to flooding, with a detour available for freight vehicles and four-wheel-drivers only.

The road reopened just before 8am today, but motorists were urged to take care between Christchurch and Picton as some surface flooding remained.

"Motorists are advised to lower their speed and increase their following distances to reduce any risk of a crash," NZ Transport Agency performance manager Pete Connors said. 

The Ashley Bridge was still closed at Cones Rd, Rangiora, today because of the high river level, and Jackson Rd, near Mill Rd, also remained closed today. 

MetService issued a road snowfall warning for Porters Pass, with 1 to 2cm of wet snow forecast to fall about the summit early this afternoon. 

Between 80 and 90 millimetres of rain fell in Rangiora in 24 hours to 6pm yesterday and about 52mm was recorded at Christchurch Airport during the same period.

A severe weather warning for Canterbury was finally cancelled late last night, although more rainy spells were expected today.

The Fire Service responded 51 calls for help with flooding issues in the Waimakariri district over the last 30 hours.

A spokesman said most calls came from the Rangiora and Kaiapoi areas, and two paid crews were brought in from Christchurch to help North Canterbury's volunteer crews respond. 

A police southern communications centre spokesman said police had received no weather-related calls in the South Island overnight, but the North Island was now being battered by heavy rain. 

Bryan McNabb, 66, navigated the section of road between Waikuku and Amberley in a small car yesterday morning.

McNabb, who was dropping a friend off in Amberley, said he could understand why the highway was later closed.

''Trucks and traffic going in [the] opposite direction were causing waves big enough to surf on. It was quite scary. The waves were smashing right over the bonnet and over the top of the car,'' he said.

Another section of State Highway 1, south of the city, was closed with a diversion in place from about 5pm after a crash in Templeton near of Marshs Rd.

Paul King used his four-wheel-drive to help a neighbour in Rangiora whose car ''conked out'' in deep water in Paisley Rd about noon.

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''We're calling in the insurance assessor, because we have got [water] through our sheds.''His company, GraceWorks Demolition & Recycling Ltd, faces a substantial clean-up bill.

A MetService spokeswoman said the rain was expected to continue today, but it would not be as heavy as yesterday.

Several schools would remain closed today because of flooding, including Ashley School, Rangiora High School, and Sefton School. 

Clarkville School would also be closed again. A notice on the school's Facebook page said the septic tank was at capacity because of the high water table and could not be accessed for emptying until the flood waters receded.

- The Press

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