Storm floods city shops

Parts of Dunedin were flooded late yesterday afternoon when a thunderstorm struck, causing havoc for some central-city businesses.

In less than 30 minutes, 15mm of rain fell in the central city, with 18.8mm falling between 4pm and 5pm. Water washed into about 20 businesses, mostly in George St between the Wall Street mall and the St Andrew St intersection.

It also provided a surprise for one Musselburgh resident, who was sweeping pooled water off his driveway when he encountered a 1m eel slithering around on the footpath.

''It gave me a hell of a fright ... I swept it into the gutter and it found its way through the grating of the drain,'' Bruce Beath said.

MetService confirmed the storm formed west of the city and then crossed over it and Otago Peninsula before moving north.

Alibi Bar, on the corner of Princes St and the lower Octagon, was flooded when water from a manhole in the footpath entered the premises.

Staff were not surprised, a staff member, who declined to be named, said.

''It's not the first time it's happened. We're pretty used to it.''

In George St, dirt and water lay in the worst-affected store, Jay Jays Ltd, and the Fire Service was called to pump water out.

Staff declined to speak to the Otago Daily Times.

Staff at neighbouring stores said it was not the first time they had been affected.

Staff at Daniels Gemtime Jewellers and Max Fashions said the water had risen up the kerbs and passing traffic, particularly buses, had forced it on to the footpaths and into stores.

Staff from all stores along that section of the street could be seen mopping out their stores.

Most stock appeared high enough to remain dry.

Max assistant manager Anna Wilson said it happened quickly and there was little they could do to stop it.

''We saw it rising on the other side and I said to the girls, 'Go and get towels', but by the time they got back, it was in here.''

Wall Street manager Regan Bennett said sandbags had been deployed at the St Andrew St entrance, but water still poured in.

Enviro Clean and Restoration was called to help dry six Wall Street premises, including a children's wear shop, a shoe shop, a music shop, the mall manager's office and a large pharmacy.

Cafe LOL owner Paul Martin, whose premises experienced only minor problems, believed more regular removal of leaves from nearby street drains could help them cope better with such downpours.

Dunedin City Council roading engineer Peter Standring said the flooding was the result of the intensity of the rain over a short period.

It was not feasible to build a pipe network able to cover just a few extreme weather events a year, he said.

The council would investigate problems at the corner of St Andrew and George Sts.

''It has highlighted some areas that need a closer look.''

Contractors were clearing leaves and drains throughout the city and monitoring slumping on Otago Peninsula roads.

Plain sense

Plain sense from Farsighted, who reminds the DCC to "clear the leaves and mud from the drains on a regular basis".  I'd go further and recommend the example of my friend who still lives down in the "student ghetto'. She clears leaves, plastic, fast-food wrappers etc when there is so much as a light shower that gathers them into a thick mat over gratings, with the result that ponds no longer flood the road and extend up her path.
Often the gutters have only a light scattering of debris in them till the rain starts and it all washed down to the nearest grating. The DCC cannot respond to everyone at once, but we as individuals can and it's not a big deal. Grab a shovel, rake, a dust-pan - anything you can scrape and scoop with, or put on rubber gloves. Drag the blockage away, and listen the rewarding rush of water escaping down into the storm water drain where it belongs instead of flooding street and people's properties.
If approximately two people per block got into this intermittent low-grade community volunteer activity off their own bat it would be a great improvement for very little input.
The DCC crews cannot be everywhere in half an hour, but we can. We already are, in town and in the suburbs. Surely every block has at least one person fit enough, mature enough, caring enough to make a start. All that and brave enough to do the "menial" lower-caste job no matter how posh the neighbours are. One good example and who knows? Maybe it will spread until getting a bit wet, doing a little humble menial job for the benefit of all isn't the mark of weirdo eccentricity. [Abridged]


Not leaves and mud but cars

The gutters and roads are built so that most of it will sit harmlessly in the road. The problem was the cars and busses driving through the middle and causing waves to flow into the shops. If anything the DCC response should have been to shut off the street.


Maybe the high tide at about 4pm contributed, by causing a backup of the drainage network.

Happens every year

Next time DCC, as we've told you a hundred times before, clear the leaves and mud from the drains on a regular basis.  This will reduce the effects of what was only a brief event that happens about once a year.

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