22,000 sandbags for Christchurch

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 16:56 14/03/2014
Sandbags in Christchurch
Anna Pearson

FLOOD PROTECTION: Sandbags were in high demand during last week's flood.

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Weather: Another fine day in Chch Weather: Clear skies expected Cows on motorway slow traffic Weather: Showers expected later today Christchurch to escape heavy rain and gales Christchurch set to avoid regional downpour Fine skies ahead of drizzle Weekend highs of 20C ahead Strong winds ease off for fine day 150kmh gusts on the way for Canterbury

A total of 22,000 sandbags will be filled in Christchurch and available at high flood-risk neighbourhoods.

Tropical Cyclone Lusi has softened slightly but Christchurch's emergency response agencies have been put on standby and advise residents to remain on high alert.

Drains have been cleared, stopbanks shored up and by midday tomorrow up to 22,000 filled sandbags will be available.

Additional height was added to the stopbank at the New Brighton camping ground, which was evacuated during last week's storm.

Welfare centres will be opened if they are required in response to any flooding. Neighbourhood Support coordinators and other community contacts have been alerted to the forecast weather, so they can help to inform their communities.

SANDBAGS AVAILABLE

Residents can help themselves to sandbags from these points after noon tomorrow. They do not have to be returned.

- Speight St-Aylesford St corner

- Hills Rd-Shirley Rd shops (car park)

- Barrington St

- Ferry Rd at Woolston Park

- corner Union St-Seaview Terrace - Owles Tce-Seaview Tce, New Brighton

- corner Martindales Rd-Truscotts Rd, Heathcote

- Burwood Park

SUNDAY WILL BE WETTEST DAY

Lusi weakened slightly from a category 3 storm to a category 2 storm overnight, but was still packing a punch.

It was due to hit the top of the North Island tonight, with the top of the South Island expected to get up to 160mm of rain from tomorrow. 

An online graphic showing the storm approaching has been created by Japanese-based software engineer Cameron Beccario.

Metservice forecaster John Law said Sunday would prove the "wettest" day for Christchurch and Canterbury, while easterly winds could reach gale-strength over Banks Peninsula and other exposed parts of the region.

Tomorrow was not looking "too bad", but drizzle would begin falling in the Canterbury foothills late tomorrow afternoon, moving closer towards Christchurch overnight. 

"[Lusi's] still looking like it will cause significant impact. I think it's very sensible, everywhere in New Zealand, to keep an eye on the forecast this week."

Lines company were also prepared for potential problems on Sunday. 

About 7000 homes in parts of Banks Peninsula and Christchurch lost power during last week's storm, with power unable to be restored to a handful of homes until Tuesday this week. 

Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said lines workers were always prepared in case of a big event, such as a storm or an earthquake.

Vehicles were kept fueled up and staff were rostered so that their response could be escalated if a big outage occurred. 

Jamieson reminded residents to call in an electrician if their property did flood and to call Orion immediately if they came across any damaged powerlines.

The latest weather warning from Metservice said the adverse weather conditions across the country could cause slips and surface flooding and make driving hazardous. 

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The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) was warning motorists to drive to the conditions as wind and rain could make driving difficult.

Journey manager Lee Wright said drivers should increase following distances during wet weather and be vigilant for slips and debris on the road. 

NZTA would be working with local authorities to keep roads open and safe, and electronic signs would be used in some places to keep road users informed of conditions ahead.

The severe gales could also lift roofs and bring down trees and powerlines, prompting a warning for people to exercise extreme caution.

"Make sure you keep up-to-date with all the latest warnings and watches," Law said.

The Christchurch City Council yesterday said it was preparing for a "worst-case scenario".

Staff had been busy checking stormwater drains and stop banks, while a stockpile of sandbags and four welfare centres dotted around the city would be available if needed. 

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said more information on the city's preparations would be made available today, including where the "key locations" for collecting sandbags would be.

Dalziel said sandbags were only effective in "isolated areas", such as protecting garages or commercial shop fronts, or for diverting water running downhill.

Sandbags would not help residents who had water coming up from under their floorboards. 

Council engineers estimated it would have taken about 500,000 sandbags to make even a small difference to the flooding issues experienced in the Flockton St area last week. 

The council was liaising with the Army and volunteer agencies to secure extra resources if they were needed, and all welfare and response agencies were expected to meet again today to update their plans. 

Those who believed sandbags could help address a specific flooding issue on their property were asked to phone the council call centre on 03 941 8999. 

The council said those details would be collected and used as part of the planning for the distribution of sandbags.

LYTTELTON COMMUNITY NOT CONVINCED BY TANK CLAIMS

A forecast storm will not put the second Lyttelton fuel tank hit by a landslide in further danger, oil company Mobil says.

The tank, with 91 unleaded fuel, was damaged last week when heavy rain caused a slip.

It also damaged a jet fuel tank, spilling at least 1500 litres into the harbour after escaping from the catchment pond.

Despite community concerns, a Mobil spokeswoman said the fuel was safe.

"It is stable and it is not leaking. We have a team of technical engineers down at the site," she said.

Lyttelton-Mount Herbert Community Board chairwoman Paula Smith was concerned forecast rain this weekend could further damage the unleaded fuel tank.

The spokeswoman said that was "pure speculation", saying Mobil had met Smith and city councillor Andrew Turner to alleviate any community concerns. "There was a slip and we have a process. We are preparing to safely transfer it to another tank."

The spokeswoman could not say why the tank had not yet been drained or what stage of the process the company was at.

Naval Point Yacht Club secretary Ken Camp shared Smith's concern. "The problem is we don't know what they are up to. We get those ridiculous press releases which don't tell us anything."

Mobil had not contacted or met with them, he said.

"We have over 1000 members and we have not heard one word from them whether we are allowed back into the club.

"On Monday, I had had enough and went up to the cordon and said, 'Let me through, I'm going to work'. They are lucky they did."

- The Press

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