Downpours, snow, slips, ice cause problems


Harness racing trainer Bob Butt at the flooded Woodend Beach training property owned by his...
Harness racing trainer Bob Butt at the flooded Woodend Beach training property owned by his parents Catherine and David Butt last Monday morning. The property is used by Bob and four other harness racing trainers. PHOTO: SHELLEY TOPP
When Woodend Beach harness racing trainer Bob Butt headed out to begin working his team of horses last Sunday morning he found much of the training property was under water. 

Bob and four other harness racing trainers, including John and Jenna Dunn, Gavin Smith and Matt Purvis, all train at the property which is owned by Bob’s parents David and Catherine Butt who are on holiday in Fiji.

The day before the flooding, on Saturday, the farm had been ‘‘winter wet’’ after heavy rain since Thursday but once the creek that runs through it burst the property had been inundated with water.

However, the all­weather training track on the property remained fine to use and no horses had to be evacuated. ‘‘We just moved them to higher ground or into boxes,’’ Bob said.

Tuahiwi trainer Dave Thompson wasn’t so lucky. He had to evacuate 11 horses from his training property on Sunday night.

The horses were moved to Rangiora racecourse with help from John and Jenna Dunn, Matt Purvis and Ohoka trainer Trent Yesberg.

‘‘John Dunn organised it,’’ Dave said.

It was like 2015 all over again for Dave and his wife Sylvia when their horses also had to be evacuated because of flooding and John came to their rescue then as well.

Dave and Sylvia were notified by Civil Defence personnel at 7.30pm on Sunday that they would have to evacuate. However, in the end they were able to stay in their home but were very grateful for the help they received moving their horses.

‘‘John and his lovely wife Jenna are such busy people, but they still find time to help others,’’ Sylvia said.

Dave and Sylvia’s Revells Road property backs on to the flood prone 85ha block of land between Lineside Road and Revells Road which was purchased by the Waimakariri District Council earlier this year to develop into a wetland reserve.

The couple are hoping that the development will improve drainage in the surrounding area.

After the 2015 flooding there had been many public meetings with the council to get the drainage problems in the area fixed, they said.

‘‘But it has just been an ongoing issue, and nothing has happened.’’

Meanwhile flooding and snow caused problems on roads throughout North Canterbury. Motorists are being asked to keep an eye out for flooded areas, potholes and slips as councils begin the clean up.

While Mt Lyford Skifield celebrated the arrival of snow, and a possible opening mid week, snow made driving in the area a bit tricky.

The Inland Road was closed due to ice, slips and flooding, but is now open, while the Leader Road remains closed, along with several other roads and fords throughout the Hurunui District.

The rain caused the closure of Oxford Area School on Monday, with problems caused by flooded roads along school bus routes.

Many roads and fords were closed in the Waimakariri District, but rivers, and creeks are receding, allowing many roads to reopen.

Fords remain closed, particularly in the Eyre River. Waikuku Beach Road, east of King’s Avenue, was closed on Monday due to a ‘‘significant flow of water across the road making it unsafe’’.

The council called in contractors with pumps to help drain the water which took several hours.

It said while it was appreciated it would have a significant impact on residents and access, the priority was to keep people safe.

By Shelley Topp & Robyn Bristow