2 Jun 2021

Springfield faces huge clean-up, but some damage beyond repair

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 2 June 2021

Flood waters swamped the quiet country town of Springfield this week, forcing some residents to flee their homes.   

Nearly 400mm of rain came down in the Canterbury town and now the water has receded, people have returned for the big clean up - but some damage is beyond repair. 

There were skip bins, diggers and people with shovels down just about every street in Springfield today.

Chief Fire Officer Grant Williams said the day was all about dealing the damage.  

"Everyone's sort of getting back in their houses, they've got insurance assessors out there now doing it and yeah, ripping up carpets... it's going to be a long, slow job," Williams said.

The community rallied together over the past few days - neighbours turning up unannounced to muck in, the local pub providing refuge to those who need it, and hot meals have been dished out. 

Civil Defence and Selwyn District Council were also ensuring people's sewerage systems were properly drained.

"Seeing the water table was so high and there was a lot of silt ... a lot of the septic tanks were compromised and some were overflowing... so they decided they'd pump out the tank to give a bit of relief to the systems," Williams said.

Claire Newell had lived in Springfield for 17 years and said the flooding took everyone by surprise.

"I was on the phone to my mother and looked out the window and saw a great torrent of water coming down the driveway. It was about 4.30(pm) so we had about an hour of daylight to lift everything up off the ground," Newell said.

Despite their best efforts 50cm of water surged through their house and garage. Now, they have a big job on their hands to sort through the damage. 

"There's stinky mud everywhere and wet sloppy items - the stuff we didn't have time to move is just horrendous - and then there's things like washing machines. I've got no idea if they're going to go or not."

Their house is two storeys, so in some ways they were lucky.  

"I am grateful that we live up there and not down here," Newell said.

For others like Toni James it was a different story - she decided to evacuate on Sunday.

"Water was actually coming through the walls," James said.

They evacuated the area on Sunday with their two dogs and daughter. On Monday, Civil Defence delivered some bad news. 

"They came and assessed some of the houses and we were red-stickered because of contamination."

Despite the huge loss, they were remaining positive.

"It was pretty disheartening for a day but you have to get on with it... (our) daughter's good, she was more trying to keep us calm and make sure we were okay and happy. The dogs obviously sensed our anxiety and didn't know what was going on but they've been getting lots of treats and bones and distractions."

They were staying at a friend's farm house in the meantime but it was likely to be eight to 10 months before they  could be back in their own home again.