A cyclist wades through flooded streets in Edgeware,
Christchurch yesterday. Photo by Getty
Hundreds of Cantabrians remain without power this morning
as the Christchurch mayor defends the council's response to
Metre-high floods cut off some homes and forced the
evacuation of others in what the council says was a
Energy provider Orion said that by 10am, around 700 customers
were still without power, mostly around Banks Peninsula but
also parts of Christchurch and an area around Southbridge.
Flooding, slips and water-logged ground in the hills was
preventing access to the network or making repairs difficult,
Christchurch residents have criticised the council over its
response to the storm, with some saying the council knew
about the flood risks but did not respond adequately with
Mayor Lianne Dalziel this morning said the council was caught
out by the scale of the event.
The initial forecast was for a one-in-five-year-event, but it
later grew to a one-in-a-century event.
"Yes we were caught out by the scale of the event," she told
Radio New Zealand.
"The forecast overnight didn't match the actual rainfall - we
had heavy, heavy rain all night on top of what is a damaged
Ms Dalziel said the priority for sandbags was for businesses
that had not been hit by floods before.
"We are obviously going to review the sandbagging issue, I've
already raised that with the minister of Civil Defence. So
obviously it is of major concern, but the scale of that ... I
don't know how many sandbags would have been required to
prevent the damage that occurred."
Ms Dalziel will meet with engineers this morning and ask them
whether there needed to be a reassessment of the flood risk
"A one-in-100-year event has given us what actually happens,
as opposed to what's predicted to happen, so it's far more
accurate. We'll be asking questions about what needs to be
done - how can we scale up action in this area?"
Ms Dalziel said Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry
Brownlee would also attend the meeting.
Weather expected to improve today
Weather around the country is expected to improve through
today, with wet and windy conditions moving away from New
MetService meteorologist John Law said the low pressure
system, which caused havoc for Cantabrians, had moved further
north through yesterday and overnight, and would eventually
clear by today.
All severe weather warnings and watches in place for the
bottom of the North Island, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne had been
lifted this morning, he said.
"The low pressure that brought the pretty unsettled weather
is starting to pull away and beyond that things are looking
much quieter through today and into the weekend."
As the pressure system petered out, those further north were
some showers for residents further north were likely over
today, however fine and settled weather should be in place by
tomorrow, Mr Law said.
Quiet weather was also expected in most places around the
country for the weekend, he said.
Christchurch mayor predicts disaster fatigue
Dalziel toured the areas worst hit by the once-in-a-century
storm with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee
yesterday. Both said they had never seen anything like it.
"Everywhere I looked I was going, 'My goodness'," Ms Dalziel
She realised it would be the last straw for some residents.
"Those that are in the really badly affected areas that have
been affected before ... it's just kind of like the
Matthew Coleman is among those considering quitting
Christchurch in the wake of the devastating storm that dumped
160mm of rain on parts of the region in 24 hours. He had to
carry his year-old son through waist-high water in rain and
"It was a nightmare basically."
Mr Coleman and his family live in Carrick St, Mairehau. He
said the road floods nearly every time it rains, but the
latest incident had forced him and his wife to starting
thinking about moving.
"We're worried about our health and the water quality,
because there was sewage coming up and we worry about it
every time it rains."
Hundreds of residents are bracing themselves for a major
clean-up today after the heavy rains that followed Tuesday's
fierce winds finally started to ease late in the afternoon.
Residents from dozens of homes have fled their flood-stricken
properties, thousands remain without power and a fuel-storage
tank has been damaged by a collapsed cliff face, putting
emergency services on alert.
Homeowners reported seeing sewage in the floodwaters around
some of the worst-hit areas, Flockton and Mairehau.
The city council said sewage plants at Duvauchelle and
Diamond Harbour were affected and warned residents
floodwaters were likely to be contaminated.
People were asked to avoid rivers and beaches for at least
Water was being trucked into Little River and the council
asked Banks Peninsula residents to conserve water.
Welfare centres had been created but so far only a handful of
people had needed them. A council spokeswoman said many
people whose homes suffered flood or storm damage would be
staying with friends or family.
It was not yet known how many properties suffered from storm
damage, she said.
Ms Dalziel said many residents were questioning whether
insurance would cover their properties.
"I've called a meeting for [today] where we're going to look
at the progress that we've made ... The question I want an
answer to is does this event change any assumptions that
we've been operating under."
Twenty homes in Lyttelton were evacuated after a slip damaged
a fuel-storage tank at the port.
The aviation fuel leaking from the tank was contained by the
Fire Service, port authorities and fuel companies and there
was no immediate risk to the public, the city council said.
The Fire Service was inundated with calls from residents
reporting damage to their homes and flooding.
They received 187 flooding-related callouts between 6am and
4pm, southern fire communications shift manager Brent Dunn
"There was very heavy surface flooding - a lot of areas we
couldn't even get to, just because it was so deep; the rivers
About 1000 Orion customers remained without power at 8pm,
with the majority expected to stay disconnected overnight,
the electricity company said.
It had been unable to access the electricity network to
restore power and the situation could remain for the next few
The majority of customers without power were around Banks
Peninsula, with most of the peninsula affected. Some pockets
of Christchurch and surrounding areas also experienced
Quakes have made flooding worse: experts
Christchurch is experiencing more frequent and severe
flooding due to the impact of the earthquakes, University of
Canterbury researchers say.
Since the first major quake in September 2010, the
liquefaction, subsidence and uplift were posing an enhanced
flooding threat to Christchurch, said University of
Canterbury geography masters student Su Young Ko.
"One of the primary contributors to increased flooding
hazards in Christchurch is the earthquakes, which resulted in
subsidence in some areas, narrowing of channels and uplifting
of river beds."
A key case study, looking at the effects of the quakes on
flooding patterns across the city, is being undertaken by
Environment Canterbury, Civil and Natural Resources
Engineering and Dr Christopher Gomez from the university's
Civil and natural resources engineer Dr Sonia Giovinazzi and
geography researcher Dr Deirdre Hart have also been
investigating the increased flooding hazard attributed to the
- By Rebecca Quilliam, Matthew Backhouse, Teuila