10.30 am

Residents told to leave as Rangitata River rises

Residents near the Rangitata River south branch have been told by Civil Defence to leave their homes to avoid being cut off as water levels keep rising.

The water levels continue to rise in the Rangitata area after stormy weather hit the region over the weekend. 

Civil Defence said flooding, particularly in the Rangitata south branch, is worsening and "may continue to do so for some time". 

"The existing evacuation notice is still in place, if you have returned to your property in the interim, please evacuate to safety as there is a significant risk you may be cut off."

In a Facebook advisory, the Timaru District Council said people who had returned to their farms needed to leave now "or they may be cut off".

It said power was likely to be cut off intermittently to allow for works, and areas previously not affected may be affected today.

The NZ Transport Agency advised this morning that the Rangitata River bridge (State Highway 1) is remaining closed today and likely overnight while its teams teams worked with Environment Canterbury river engineers to mend breaches in stopbanks ahead of more rain forecast for later this week.

In a statement the NZTA said that until the water was diverted properly and a key repair was completed near the railway line, the highway was not safe to be opened. 

Image: Timaru District Council
Image: Timaru District Council