Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

'Once-in-a-century' storm finally eases

Flooding in Carrick Street, St Albans. Photo / Matty Coleman
Flooding in Carrick Street, St Albans. Photo / Matty Coleman

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Rain is finally starting to ease following the once-in-a-century storm that forced the evacuation of homes, caused slips and cut power to thousands of people across Canterbury.

The squall is blazing up the country, bringing gale force winds to the lower North Island.

Residents are being urged to avoid travel if possible while the Christchurch City Council scrambles to clear debris-strewn roads and help with stormwater drainage.

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"Our people will be out there again tonight and the community can play their part by checking on their friends and neighbours just like they did during the earthquakes,'' Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The Fire Service has been inundated with calls from residents reporting damage to their homes and flooding.

They received 187 flooding-related callouts between 6am and 4pm southern fire communications shift manager Brent Dunn said.

"There was very heavy surface flooding - a lot of areas we couldn't even get to, just because it was so deep, the rivers were overflowing. It's just been a very busy day.''

Read more:
Father and daughter trapped after storm brings down power lines
Cook Strait ferry services suspended by storm

The storm above New Zealand. Photo / NASA
The storm above New Zealand. Photo / NASA

MetService said 160mm of rain had fallen on Lyttelton in the past 24 hours.

Police have evacuated 19 households from three streets after a landslip above a fuel storage area at the port.

Homes in parts of Cressy Terrace, Park Terrace and Brittan Terrace were evacuated this afternoon and cordons are in place.

The evacuations were precautionary and in response to the possibility of further slips in the area.

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The slip occurred earlier today below Brittan Terrace, with a cliff face collapsing into a bulk storage tank, police said.

Emergency services were confident there was no danger to residents, with the wind dispersing any lingering fumes.

Flooding from the Avon River in the red zoned section of Dallington in Christchurch. Photo / SNPA / David Alexander
Flooding from the Avon River in the red zoned section of Dallington in Christchurch. Photo / SNPA / David Alexander

An evacuation centre had been established at the council service centre in London St.

About 3500 Orion customers remained without power this afternoon, with the majority expected to stay disconnected overnight, the electricity company said.

The company had been unable to access the electricity network to restore power and the situation could remain for the next few days.

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Chief executive Rob Jamieson said flooding and road closures were why engineers could not reach the power network.

"Quite simply, we cannot get to many parts of our network to repair those power lines that were damaged yesterday by falling trees.

"Coupled with rising flood waters affecting substations and kiosks, this storm is proving unique due to its ongoing and multiple impact nature.''

Firefighters check storm water flooding on Voelas Road, Lyttelton, Christchurch. Photo / SNPA / David Alexander
Firefighters check storm water flooding on Voelas Road, Lyttelton, Christchurch. Photo / SNPA / David Alexander

The majority of customers without power were around Banks Peninsula, with most of the peninsula affected. Some pockets of Christchurch and surrounding areas were also experiencing outages.

The city's airport was open, but there was a backlog of travellers with delays to some flights because of the storm affecting other parts of the country.

People were urged to contact their airline to check on flights.

KiwiRail said they were also clearing a backlog after ferry crossings were suspended yesterday because of high waves through the Cook Strait.

A spokeswoman said crossings resumed at 2pm today and they were trying to clear the extra passengers from yesterday.

Meanwhile, the storm has bustled north and Wellington was buffeted with gusts in exposed areas reaching 119km/h.

MetService spokesman John Law said the city had winds of up to 100km/h through the day.

Image / Joe Morgan
Image / Joe Morgan

Wind warnings were in force for Wellington, the Wairarapa and coastal Hawkes Bay.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand said residents affected directly as a result of storm or flood damage over the past couple of days should contact their insurers to have damage assessed.

If residents had to remove damaged goods from their homes or dispose of material, for instance, due to contamination that posed a risk to health, they should take photos to help inform the assessments, chief executive Tim Grafton said.

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By the numbers

* About 3500 customers remain without power

* The Fire Service received 187 flooding calls;

* 160mm of rain fell in Lyttelton

* Wind gusts in exposed Wellington areas reached 119km/h


- APNZ

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