Dunedin has sandbags ready as city braces for deluge

by RNZ / 21 July, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Dunedin floods
The MetService's rain radar gives an idea of what the South Island is in for. Photo / MetService

Dunedin was seriously affected by flooding two years ago, but mayor Dave Cull says the city's ready this time.

Steady rain since early morning is causing surface flooding and slips in Canterbury, Otago and Marlborough as stormy weather moves south.

Floodwaters are threatening homes in the Canterbury towns of Ashburton, Timaru, Rakaia, Methven and St Andrews and fire crews have been called to help divert water from several properties.

Dunedin is bracing for up to 200mm of rain between this morning and midday tomorrow as the front sweeps through the South Island.

Rain started falling in Canterbury early this morning, and MetService said 140-180mm could fall by midday tomorrow.

In Christchurch, Avonside Drive near the Stanmore Road intersection is flooded, and Emmet Street between Stanmore Road and Briggs Road is closed due to flooding.

On the Banks Peninsula, State Highway 75 from Duvauchelle to Takamatua is closed due to a slip.

Another slip has closed one lane of SH79 from Geraldine to Fairlie in South Canterbury, and SH1 from Hundalee to Kaikōura is also closed.

In Otago, Gladfield Road near Mosgiel is closed due to flooding.

Both SH1 south of Kaikōura and the inland road are closed until at least early afternoon, cutting the town off.

Marlborough Civil Defence warned of surface flooding on some roads including Taylor Pass Road south of Wither Road, New Renwick Road, Wairau Bar Road and the West Coast Road (SH63).

South Dunedin was seriously flooded in June 2015 and other floods in the city have affected the CBD.

But the council said it was prepared for today's heavy rain and had made sure the stormwater system was clear and sandbags were ready to go.

"We've checked all the mud tanks around the streets and we've checked that our pump screens are clear," Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told RNZ's Morning Report.

"We're putting sandbags in place for people to use, and sand to fill them if they need them." The worst of the weather was expected to hit from midday, he said.

Opoho Hill, Dunedin. The rain stopped mid-morning but the clouds looked ready for action. Photo / Ian Telfer

'Significant weather event'

MetService warned the storm was a significant weather event and the combination of heavy rain and strong winds was expected to cause widespread disruption to transport, localised flooding and slips.

Lumpy showers affect the North Island, Rain heads south. Hang in there Canterbury. Dunedin next http://bit.ly/AllWarnings  ^JR

It follows last week's winter storm, which closed many state highways throughout the country and cut power to thousands of homes.

The latest rough weather hit Bay of Plenty about 9pm yesterday with wind gusts of 100km/hour in Whakatāne and 90km/h in Rotorua and Taupō.

Parts of the region had 50mm of rain between 6pm and 6am, most of it late in the evening.

On roads in the region, a fallen tree blocked SH2 at Matata, in the Whakatāne district, between Mimiha Road and Pikowai Road, while a slip blocked a section of SH2 near Herepuru Stream.

The fire service said it had attended 36 weather-related incidents in the northern part of the country. A spokesman said most of the calls were because of trees across roads, but there were two incidents where roofs were lifting. Auckland had about 30mm of rain.

Electricity is being gradually restored to about 500 homes in Bay of Plenty - most between Taupō and Rotorua - that had lost power overnight. A further 3500 households lost power in Taupō during windy weather but most have now had electricity restored.

Thunderstorms in Auckland

Thunderstorms, lightning and hail are sweeping Auckland and MetService said they're likely to continue this afternoon.

Hail is relatively unusual in the city but has been falling in pockets this morning as the thunderstorms and heavy rain hit.

The fire service has had no reports of problems because of the weather.


This article was originally published by RNZ.

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