Another severe weather watch for Otago

The Dunedin City Council is keeping a close eye on the situation after the MetService issued another severe weather watch for heavy rain expected to hit eastern Otago this afternoon.

The MetService said following yesterday's drenching another period of rain was forecast to affect Otago this afternoon and evening, as a low moves westwards onto the lower South Island.


This watch is for the likelihood of rainfall accumulations meeting warning criteria in eastern parts of Otago from 2pm today to 2am tomorrow.

Farmer James Adam says it's the worst November flooding he had seen since 1993. Photo: Ellie May...
Farmer James Adam says it's the worst November flooding he had seen since 1993. Photo: Ellie May Adam

"While rainfall amounts and intensities are likely to be less than yesterday, rain will fall on already sodden ground."

Dunedin City Council communications and marketing manager Graham McKerracher said the council would keep a "close eye" on the situation.

It was not reactivating its Civil Defence Emergency management bunker.

However, given streams and rivers were running high and how sodden the ground was in places, the predicted rain was a concern.

"It really just depends on how heavily it comes down."

Predicted rain from 4pm to 10pm this evening. Images: MetService
Predicted rain from 4pm to 10pm this evening. Images: MetService

In an update sent at noon the council said at this stage it was not expecting "major issues" from this afternoon's rain.

Meanwhile, Henley residents remain trapped after heavy flooding, but Dunedin is in clean-up mode after escaping the brunt of yesterday's downpour.

Mr McKerracher said this morning the Taieri settlement of Henley was isolated by a slip on one road and a bridge which remained underwater.

Residents who did not evacuate yesterday could be trapped for longer than anticipated, as the Otago Regional Council predicted the water to not recede as quickly as usual.

It was not clear how long that would be.

Extensive flooding and wastewater surcharges affected Middlemarch yesterday.

A boil water notice had been placed on Middlemarch after sewerage spilled through parts of the town and an environmental health team was heading there this morning.

Water is available from a tanker beside the Strath-Taieri Community Centre.

Taieri residents were being advised not to drink water from private bores as it may be contaminated.

Water from all DCC supplies was safe to drink.

James Adam's farm in Henley. Photo: Ellie May Adam
James Adam's farm in Henley. Photo: Ellie May Adam

However, a burst watermain may be affecting the supply to residents on Coast Rd and in Evansdale.

Repairs were underway and fresh water is available by tanker from midday.

The tanker is stationed at the junction of SH1 and Coast Road, outside the old hotel/service station. 

Henley sheep, beef and dairy farmer James Adam said it was the worst November flooding he had seen since 1993.

Some of his paddocks were up to three meters deep in water at the peak last night, but it was now receding.

There was a danger with flooding at this time of year, as heat mixed with heavy rainfall was bad for the grass, he said.

"It's not good for us to have flooding in November."

The Dunedin City Council has deactivated its Civil Defence Emergency management bunker which was activated yesterday.

Mr McKerracher said it was briefly reactivated at 10.45pm last night until 1.30am after the Otago Regional Council alerted it to the Taieri River rising further, however it did not eventuate.

There are water outages on the Eastern coast which had affected Warrington, Seacliff and half of Waitati, but the council expected it to be back on at 2pm.

No more power outages had been reported since last night.

The main rail line south of Dunedin is being checked after parts were submerged yesterday.

Mr McKerracher said anyone with contaminated water issues should contact the council.

It also wanted to thank the community for turning off washing machines and showers when requested yesterday.

"South Dunedin held up well this time, except for some surface flooding. Overall, our systems worked well." 

A truck stuck in Henley yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A truck stuck in Henley yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson

Dunedin's wettest day for November

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said yesterday was Dunedin's wettest day in a November which already had had three times the average rainfall.

So far this month, 150.8mm of rain had been recorded at Dunedin Airport and at 7pm last night 59.2mm had fallen in just 24 hours.

Water gushes down the hill in front of a Ravensbourne house yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson

More rain was forecast for the rest of the week, but nothing like the amount which fell yesterday, he said. There was also concern a heavy tide last night could exacerbate flooding.

Elsewhere, more than 50mm of rain fell in Roxburgh, about 34mm in Oamaru and 30mm to 40mm in parts of the Clutha District.

Water gushes down the hill in front of a Ravensbourne house yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson

Police went house to house in the Taieri settlement of Henley yesterday afternoon to advise residents to evacuate.

Last night, the Taieri River had not yet breached the floodbanks at the settlement, but some houses were flooded by hill runoff.

Fenz spokesman Daryl Ball said the service fielded 84 callouts in Otago and Southland yesterday, including from a man who became stuck in his car in floodwater near Kaitangata.

Most of the callouts were to individual homes where flooded basements or backyards had flooded.

At least one house was flooded in Ranfurly, and the town's bowl-like rugby field was full of water.

Flooding on the runway caused the cancellation of a flight out of Dunedin Airport and meant an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland had to be diverted to Christchurch.

KiwiRail said it closed the line south of Dunedin as parts were submerged, and would inspect it for damage once the water receded.

In Mosgiel, Gordon Rd was inundated by surface flooding which led to it being closed for a short time and retailers scrambled to find sandbags to protect their stores from the rising water.

Mosgiel shop owner Julie Choie, of Choies Takeaway, said she blocked her door with sandbags and water did not get inside.

''We've had a lot of support from the community, people are calling up to make sure we're OK,'' Ms Choie said.

Ravensbourne was another area badly hit by the weather. Several dips on SH88 had deep surface flooding, forcing heavy traffic to grind almost to a standstill.

A large slip just past Maia closed the highway's northbound lane, forcing firefighters to act as impromptu traffic controllers.

In Ravensbourne itself, the front of one property, opposite Moller Park, had turned into a waterfall. At Deborah Bay slips had blocked Aramoana Rd which was down to one lane last night.

At 5.15pm the Otago Regional Council opened the Riverside spillway gates on the Taieri River at Outram to divert flooding into a ponding area, which is part of the Taieri Flood Protection Scheme.

Sandbags were made available for concerned residents in Mosgiel and South Dunedin.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said it was his understanding the Portobello Rd pumping station did not get to full capacity yesterday afternoon.

Residents in Ravensbourne and some areas of the Taieri experienced power cuts.

Heavy rain infiltrating the wastewater system forced up manhole covers in many areas, so all available bypasses were opened to alleviate pressure.

Dunedin's rubbish and recycling collection will go ahead as usual today and areas missed yesterday will be collected if roads are open.

The city council recommended people stay out of waterways and not to collect shellfish for 48 hours after wastewater overflow to the Silverstream in Mosgiel and minor overflows to other waterways, including Otago Harbour.


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