Praise for volunteers, services

An aerial view shows water from the flooded Tokomairaro River spreading over the plains south of...
An aerial view shows water from the flooded Tokomairaro River spreading over the plains south of Milton on Saturday. Photo: Samuel White.
The worst of the weekend rain forced evacuations in Milton and flooded streets in Lawrence.

Milton Fire and Emergency New Zealand chief officer Robbie Phillips said the brigade was  asked to help evacuate people about 7pm on Friday as the rain set in.

Streets on the western side of Union St were evacuated and residents  moved into local motels and  a temporary emergency shelter set up at the Toko Rugby Club rooms.

People were also billeted with other residents in the town, Mr Phillips said.

Water did not  enter the town, except for a few streets surrounding Ajax St.

Mr Phillips had not heard of any major damage but was aware of water entering garages and a few houses.

He was surprised by how quickly the waters rose and how much rain fell in  a short time.

State Highway 1 access was cut off both north and south of the town as floodwaters from the Tokomairaro River rose and cut off areas.

The road to Lawrence at the State Highway 8 intersection was also restricted.

Lola cafe owner Annika Dickie made the decision to open the business despite the flooding early in the morning.

The cafe was exceptionally busy and she was called in twice to help during peak times.

"People had nowhere to go."

Information on the situation was regularly posted on Facebook where she and most people accessed it.

Lawrence was also hit particularly badly by high  water.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the main street, Ross Pl, was flooded and water levels at local businesses were knee-deep.

It was devastating to see firsthand the people go through the experience.He said it was a testing time for communities.

He hoped everyone would be able to recover  quickly.

Mr Cadogan commended the efforts put in by volunteers and emergency services.

"Everyone did a magnificent job."

He could not say enough good things about  all the groups that "dug it in" and helped their community.

Kaitangata also mustered volunteers including the Crescent and Clutha rugby teams to help place sandbags along the Clutha River and at Inch Clutha.

A statement by the Clutha District Council yesterday said water levels and river flows were still dropping and no further rain was expected.Civil Defence staff were still working as the district entered "clean-up mode".

The Kaitangata mouth of the Clutha River was being monitored after a channel was cleared on Saturday to help the water flow out.

Several roads were still closed, including Summerhill, Cross, Koi Flat,  Wangaloa and Toko Mouth Rds and areas near the Waitahuna Gully and Cullen Hill Rds.

The council was aware some culverts were washed out and needed to be renewed.

Residents on the Balmoral 1, Balmoral 2, Tuapeka and Glenkenich Rural Water Schemes were asked to conserve water, as treatment plants and schemes were under pressure.

samuel.white@odt.co.nz

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