Contractors 'flat out' on cleanup

The Waitaki District Council is still not sure how long it will take to repair the damage caused by this week's floods, which it estimates may cost at least $500,000.

Most of the district was rain-free yesterday, but council roading manager Michael Voss said although five rural roads had been reopened, there were still 45 closed and cautions remained on another 38.

"We have five to six crews out there working with six diggers, and more hard plant coming in.

"What we are focusing on currently is just getting immediate access available so people can use the roads, before we can go back and start reconstruction work."

Mr Voss said the areas around Ngapara, Kakanui and the Shag River were the "three key areas" that had been prioritised for attention.

On Wednesday, council assets manager Neil Jorgensen estimated the costs of repairs at between $500,000 and $1 million, but Mr Voss said the clean-up was in its early stages and staff were still surveying the area.

A better picture of what needed to be done was expected by the end of today, he said.

Otago Regional Council records at the Dasher rainfall station indicated 132mm of rain had fallen in the past seven says, and peaked on Tuesday when rainfall of 10mm an hour was recorded.

Waitaki District Council emergency services officer Steve Couper said contractors were working "flat out" cleaning up.

"We still have a lot of water around. The contractors are out trying to get as many local roads up and running as they can. Like a lot of roads out on the plains are going to be wet for several days, there's not enough drying as yet to evaporate much of the water, so it will take a while to dry off.

"At this stage, as long as we don't get any more rain, we can start making some progress."

Mr Couper said although most river levels were receding, there were still some problems around Palmerston, as the Shag river remained high.

Surface water also made it difficult to assess the full scale of damage to roads, he said.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz