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Daniel de Garnham, of Timaru, kayaks long SH1, near BP Showgrounds, during last week's floods. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Rachael Comer

A $500,000 clean-up now follows the South Canterbury floods.

A state of emergency was declared at 3pm last Friday, after heavy rain and strong winds pounded the region, closing roads, cutting off power and flooding homes and businesses.

The emergency was over when the downpour eased on Sunday and the sun came out.

The cost of the big clean-uphas been estimated at $500,000.

“Overall, our infrastructure coped very well considering the large amount of rain that fell over a very short period.” – TDC group manager, infrastructure, Ashley Harper

In Timaru, 67.4mm of rain fell between 6am and 6pm on Friday. The town’s one-day July rainfall record was set in 1908 when 111mm fell on one day.

Council group manager, infrastructure, Ashley Harper said the cost of the damage would be supported by funding from the NZ Transport Agency and council operational and contingency funds.

He said infrastructure had coped well in the storm.

“Overall, our infrastructure coped very well considering the large amount of rain that fell over a very short period.”

Areas such as Showgrounds BP in Evans St, Caroline Bay and the Scenic Reserve were affected by surface flooding during the storm.

The areas regularly flood during heavy rain.

The Courier asked if the council were considering any long-term measurements to address flooding in these areas.

“One of the benefits of having green spaces such as Caroline Bay and the Scenic Reserve is that they can contain a significant amount of stormwater without sustaining any major damage.

“We are always looking at ways in which we can improve our stormwater infrastructure, particularly in challenging areas such as the low point around the BP garage, but we think, considering the severity of this rain, our systems overall performed well,” Mr Harper said.

He said that early alerts from the MetService had helped with flood management.

“The warnings enabled the council to have response teams in place early, meaning that we were able to provide services to the community quickly and efficiently.”

He said the public had responded well.

“Our electronic resources were accessed more than 200,000 times, which shows people were ensuring they had the correct information and we’ve heard a lot of stories of people checking on neighbours and helping people out, so we couldn’t be more pleased with the public response.”

It was now a case of cleaning up, he said.

“From here, it is mainly assessing all our roads, and working out where repairs are needed.”

“Also, ensuring our water treatment systems continue to make our water safe to drink.”