Flooding closes roads, schools

Deluge more than month's rainfall

NICOLE MATHEWSON, CAROLINE KING AND MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 16:01 17/06/2013

Quake-damaged house suffers again

Car stranded in St Martins

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Weather: Summer drawing near Weather: Hail and thunder storms Cup Day to mostly escape the rain Afternoon rain may spoil warm 22C Christchurch set for summery 23C Sunny start to the weekend Weather: Get a spring in your step More hail threatens battered regions Miserable weather coming to an end Rain will not stop New Brighton fireworks

Canterbury drivers are being urged to stay off the roads, with more rain forecast to fall over the next few hours.

The Canterbury Civil Defence emergency management group is urging residents to avoid non-essential travel.

Regional Civil Defence group controller Neville Reilly said those who do need to travel should take extreme care on the roads and reduce speeds to suit the hazardous conditions. 

The deluge which has hit Christchurch since Saturday afternoon is far more than the city typically gets for the whole month of June.

The MetService says more than 90 millimetres has fallen at Christchurch airport since Saturday afternoon. The city typically has 60mm of rain for the whole of June, though the wettest June on record in 1995 was 183mm.

Four schools have closed, a welfare centre has been set up, and some Banks Peninsula towns are being urged to conserve drinking water.

Wet roads may have contributed to the death of an 18-year-old whose vehicle was found in a flooded ditch near Tai Tapu.

The body of Oliver Steven Mills, of Tai Tapu, was found in his vehicle about 10.30am on Sunday.

Authorities have also named the woman who died after a landslide engulfed her home at Sandy Bay, north of Motueka on Sunday. She was Jude Hivon, 63, described by her neighbour Tim Wraight as "a great little soul".

Civil Defence has set up a welfare centre at Mairehau Primary School, in one of the worst-affected parts of the city.

Meanwhile, the Christchurch City Council is transporting fresh water to Akaroa, Takamatua and Duvauchelle, in Banks Peninsula, where residents are being urged to conserve water.

City water and waste contracts manager Tim Joyce said Banks Peninsula drinking water was running low after heavy rainfall saw "unclean stormwater to mix with clean stream water".

Christ the King School in Greers Rd, Burnside, failed to open this morning because of "severe flooding" while Rangiora High School sent pupils home at 11am due to fears over closed, or flooded waters in the district.

Ashley School and Sefton School, also in North Canterbury, have now closed.

Motorists across Christchurch and Canterbury are being urged to take care with concealed potholes a risk for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

Surface flooding has been reported in St Albans, Beckenham, New Brighton, Northwood, Burnside and Sumner. One northbound lane on the Fitzgerald Ave bridge, north of Kilmore St, is closed due to floodwaters.

The roads have proved a challenge for city ambulances though St John said it had see very few injuries specifically related to the weather.

MAIREHAU SHOPS UNDER WATER

Butchers at Peter Timbs Meats have set up a pallet walkway from the middle of Edgeware Rd to the shop front, so customers can reach the door.

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Duty manager Mark Coburn said water was running through the shop but customers were still coming.

He said the flooding was the worst he had ever seen.

''Edgeware Rd in between Barbadoes and Madras is really bad.''

Gumboots were also necessary at the Warrington Discount dairy and neighbouring Warrington Discount Liquor on Warrington St, in Mairehau.

Warrington Discount Liquor manager Herbal Deelp said the two stores, which had the same owner, were both staying open today, but water had started to lap inside from lunchtime.

A few hardy locals had continued to shop at the stores but future customers were warned that they would be getting their feet wet unless they wore gumboots.

Passing cars caused the floodwaters to move like a wave, sending more water into the stores regularly, said Deelp.

A unit in between the two shops was used for storage and had also been affected by the flooding.

Stock had not been damaged, but the carpet in the storage warehouse would have to be replaced.

TC3 HOME AWASH UNDER 300 LITRES OF WATER

For many the heavy rain and rising rivers have caused inconvenience. For others it feels like the final straw.

One Christchurch family has had more than 300 litres of water seep through the roof of their earthquake-damaged home.

Tracey McKeefry emptied a 100L bin at 10pm last night, and woke this morning to find it overflowing and "water pooling" on the kitchen floor of her Woodgrove Ave home in North New Brighton.

"Listening to [the heavy rain] in the night I didn't sleep very well."

She had emptied the large bin three times in the last 24 hours and already it was about three quarters full.

"I don't know what to do with it anymore ... I can't get the buckets quite right. I'm well over it."

The leak was above the door between the kitchen and office of the TC3 home.

Part of the ceiling in the office had collapsed due to rain over the years.

McKeefry said it was the family's third winter in the quake-damaged home.

The mother-of-two was also worried how the roof would cope with the snow that was forecasted to hit later this week.

Buckets were not the only way the family had tried to weather-proof their home.

McKeefry had also rolled up pieces of newspaper and stuffed them in gaps in the walls, while tape covered cracks in the floor - all in an attempt to keep the house warm.

Her most expensive power bill last winter was $600.

McKeefry said the family-of-four were still waiting for an answer on the fate of the property, which had been their home for nearly 10 years.

She hoped they would not have to spend a fourth winter without answers.

FIREFIGHTERS BUSY ACROSS REGION

A Fire Service spokesman said firefighters had attended 49 weather-related incidents in the South Island between 6.20am and 10.30am today, including 35 in Canterbury.

Firefighters had been using hay bales to divert water flooding a Mairaki Rd house, near Rangiora, this morning.

The spokesman said people were asked to be vigilant when travelling throughout the South Island today.

A woman driving in Riverlaw Tce, St Martins, had to be rescued after driving into a puddle that was deeper than she expected.

Emergency services had to pull her vehicle out of the giant pothole after she crashed into it about 9am. 

Mairehau resident Rummy Strong woke to find his rubbish bins floating past his window.

Heavy rain overnight had caused the street outside his house to flood to knee-level, ruining his car and his two flatmates' cars.

"The first thing I thought was, 'Is it only here or is it this bad everywhere else?'. Then I thought, 'holy s... my car. It's written-off'."

He and his flatmates planned to stay home today because of the flooding in Thornton St, which had surrounded their house.

Strong, who worked for a computer store, only had third-party insurance on his car and would have to rely on the city buses to get to work in the central city.

"I haven't got a car now," he said.

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) spokesman said the agency was not dealing with any urgent weather-related issues, but was monitoring the situation.

"We have since Friday been actively monitoring properties in the Port Hills that could potentially pose a risk in these conditions."

The MetService website appears to have crashed under heavy demand this morning.

The traffic lights at the intersection of Bealey Ave and Barbadoes St were out of action this morning, meaning drivers were required to use the give way rules when passing through.

A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said the lights were back on by 8.30am.

Meanwhile, a possible line fault cut power to 434 homes in Avonside, North Linwood and Richmond for 41 minutes at 12.45am today.

HAY BALES FOR NORTH CANTERBURY HOME

A North Canterbury family desperately stacked hay bales around their home to divert floodwaters, but could not stop the flow from rushing through their house for the second time in less than a year.

Repairs to Karl Horwarth's Mairaki Rd property had just been completed when last night's heavy rain flooded it for the second time since August last year.

The two-storey house had needed to have new carpets, paint and joinery installed and Howarth expected the same would be needed this time.

"We're miles away from the race, but it comes all the way down our driveway, 800 metres, takes a nice left-hand turn and comes into our house."

The flooding was worse this year, but the family had been expecting it.

"Last time we woke up to it ... and we were sloshing. This time we were able to get up and get most stuff out of it in time."

Horwarth's brother-in-law, Andrew Thomas, had been out at 1am using hay bales in an attempt to divert the water from the house.

The Fire Service and Waimakariri District Council had also been out to help, but the water had managed to sneak passed, flooding the family's garage and entering their house.

Howarth's elderly parents also lived on the property following Canterbury's earthquakes and had been forced to leave because of the flooding today.

His father, who had dementia, had been put into emergency respite care, but Howarth, his partner and 8-year-old son hoped to be able to stay in a granny flat behind the main house that had not been affected by the flooding yet.

"We had talked to the Waimakariri council. We've been on them constantly since it happened last year ... but nothing's happened."

The garden surrounding the house had also been trashed by the flooding and would be covered in mud and silt when the water subsided.

"It's like liquefaction really."

Waimakariri District Council emergency management advisor Brennan Wiremu said a house in Aldersgate Rd, Kaiapoi, had also been flooded this morning.

Water was also threatening two properties in Kairaki Beach and one in King St in Rangiora.

Members of Civil Defence's volunteer rescue team were at the affected homes to help divert water and give support.

"Anybody who thinks their life is at risk or thinks the water is going to rush through their house should call 111 in the first instance ... then call the council," Wiremu said.

The MetService expects heavy falls to clear North Canterbury this afternoon.

PLANE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

Flights in and out of Christchurch and Dunedin do not appear to be delayed by the weather, but 160 passengers flying from Christchurch to Auckland were given a fright when their plane was struck by lightning.

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel was on the Air New Zealand flight when she heard a ''bang and a flash''.

The plane was travelling through cloud when the lightning struck and the pilot spoke to passengers a few minutes later to let them know what had happened.

Dalziel said she had never been in a plane when it was hit by lightning before and was surprised by the noise it made.

''It wasn't terribly loud, although it woke up my fellow passenger. In all the time I've been flying it hadn't happened before I'm glad that's all it was.''

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed flight 504 from Christchurch to Auckland was hit by lightning on its approach to Auckland this morning.

There had been 163 passengers on board.

The aircraft would now be inspected by engineers before being cleared to return to service, the spokeswoman said. 

- The Press

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