It could still take two years to fully implement a flood
mitigation plan for Christchurch's flood-prone areas following
more damage from this week's major storm that crashed into
Canterbury, the Government and the local council say.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, councillors and Canterbury
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee met this morning
with council engineers to green light the plan.
Ms Dalziel wanted the measures to be completed within two
years, it emerged today.
"Addressing increased flooding risk continues to be a
priority issue for the council and a lot of work has been
done over the past 18 months since the aftershocks eased,"
"But Christchurch people have been through yet another
extreme event in the past two days and it has been a real
wake-up call for all of us."
Mr Brownlee also believed that two years was as quick as
could realistically be expected.
He supported the move to fast-track work on mitigation
"So programmes are being looked to which would remediate, or
mitigate the effects of those 100-year events."
The Insurance Council of New Zealand said the Flockton area
had flooded on several occasions since the earthquakes
lowered land in the area.
"So, this is good news for hard-pressed residents constantly
worried about what the next heavy rain will bring," chief
executive Tim Grafton said.
Fifty houses in Flockton Street were flooded in the latest
Electricity company Orion said it hoped fewer than 100 people
would remain without electricity overnight. At the peak of
the storm, 7000 customers were without power.
Chief executive Rob Jamieson said the multiple impact nature
of the storm, which had meant dealing with issues such as
gale-force winds, flooding, slips and road closures, had
presented challenges for line crews.
Health authorities are warning residents to take extra care
during the flood cleanup.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink said
practising some basic measures would help protect people from
"Flood waters may have been contaminated with sewage and the
most important thing to remember when cleaning up is to
practice basic hand hygiene.
"Always wash your hands with soap and water after being in
contact with contaminated water, and after cleaning up areas
affected by flooding."
It was also important not to allow children to play in
flood-affected areas until the clean-up was complete, he
Local heroes the Student Volunteer Army were back in action
today, shovelling mud from the torrential flooding.
President Bridget Williams said Heathcote Valley School
called on them to help clear the streets and paths around the
school in the Heathcote Valley so children could get to and
Prime Minister John Key visited the region today to see
first-hand the damage wrought by the bad weather.
"Hang in there, won't you," he told the shop owners and staff
working to mop up after the torrential rain which poured over
sandbags and flooded their shops.
Mr Key said he appreciated it must be frustrating for people
to continuously deal with natural disasters beyond their
"[But] I still believe, fundamentally, there is an enormous
level of optimism in Christchurch."