Otago, Timaru declared as emergency areas

High seas lash cars driving on the St Clair Esplanade in Dunedin yesterday afternoon. PICTURE: Gerard O'Brien

Dunedin woke up to severe flooding, slips and other damage and road closures after a night of heavy rain that continues this morning.
City Council staff and contractors at first light began assessing the damage caused by heavy rain and flooding, but overnight at least 100 homes at Outram were evacuated, several large slips came down, including one that cut off Broad Bay and Portobello, and nine people stuck in and on cars had to be rescued by the army.
Major highways have been affected. State highway 1 from Waihola to Balclutha is closed. State highway 1 from Waitati to Timaru is also closed, as is State highway 88 from Maia to Sawyers Bay in Dunedin city. State highway 8 from Milton to Roxburgh, State highway 87 from Outram to Kyeburn and State highway 85 from Palmerston to Omakau are all closed by flooding.
The Otago Regional Council’s monitoring site at Silver Stream at Mosgiel recorded 109mm of rain in the 24 hours to 7am, with 78mm recorded at the Musselburgh Station.
The Taieri River was running at 1949cumecs at 6.30am, about three times its highest flood warning level, and the river, as the Silver Stream, has been allowed to spill into ponding areas in the Upper Taieri.
In the Clutha district, Milton and Lawrence have signifcant surface flooding in both towns.
In Dunedin, surface flooding affected roads around the wider city and forced some residents, in areas such as lower Outram, Mosgiel and the Taieri, to evacuate.
However, a DCC spokesman said south Dunedin had not been severely affected by the storm. “There haven’t been many issues at all in south Dunedin.”
At 6am, 78mm of rain had fallen in Musselburgh since the rain started yesterday, compared to 221mm at Swampy Summit.
During the 2015 flood, about 175mm of rain fell in south Dunedin within 24 hours.
The Army assisted Civil Defence in rescuing nine people trapped in and on cars on State highway 87 about 2.30am today. A Unimog took the occupants to safety.
About the same time Civil Defence was helping transport people from at least 100 Outram homes evacuated after the lower part of the town was inundated.
Dunedin civil defence controller Sue Bidrose said people needed to be aware there would be widespread debris and damage and motorists must drive carefully and to the conditions.
“We are asking people to respect road signs and avoid driving through floodwaters if possible.
If they have to drive through surface water, please do so very slowly.”
Dunedin Airport remains open, and some flights are running on time. However, others have been cancelled.
A flight from Dunedin to Christchurch at 6.35am was cancelled but a flight from Brisbane to Dunedin landed this morning.
The council issued a notice this morning saying it had run out of flooding signs and for people to please drive with caution as not every area flooded was signposted.
A number of fords and roads will remain closed until they have been properly assessed.
A large slip on Portobello Road, close to King George Sreet, means access to Portobello and Broad Bay has been cut off.
There are a number of other slips on the Otago Peninsula and access to Macandrew Bay is by Highcliff, Camp and Castlewood roads.
Otago Daily Times

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