2 Jun 2021

Okuku residents fear land no longer safe after river flood

From Checkpoint, 6:23 pm on 2 June 2021

North Canterbury residents who fled as the Okuku River flooded their properties are worried they might not be able to live there for much longer.

They are waiting on Waimakariri District Council engineers to assess the rural block in Okuku after the river rose and washed over the area.

"I'm sitting inside, the carpet's absolutely saturated," Okuku resident Gary Williams said.

"Because the house is double-glazed, the condensation is just dripping off the roof and there's silt all over the kitchen floor, bathroom and dining room.

"Water probably came up just over the top of the skirting boards, so they're probably all going to have to be pulled off and maybe some of the gib cut out. 

"It's an inconvenience, that's for sure. We'd just redecorated the place."

Williams said he waiting on his insurance assessor to get in touch.

"There's a fair few grands worth of fencing that's been washed away. Most of my machinery is under driftwood. A lot of the road outside the frontage is gone. It's just been washed into the neighbour's place."

He said he worried about his neighbours as they were closer to the river.

Williams and his neighbours met with Waimakariri District Mayor Dan Gordon, chief executive Jim Harland and others on Tuesday night. He said the council would work through some options for the property owners, but it would take some time.

"I have no idea what they're going to be, but if the river has changed its course, you then need to question the viability of these properties on the corner here.

"It is largely the four of us that have been hit the hardest. There's a couple of other properties a bit further downstream that have lost some of their land from the river moving so quickly.

"Generally, everyone else will get by. It's just this little corner of Inglis Rd and Riverside Rd that's taken the hit of it. We had to leave on Sunday. It came up real quick.

"Monday morning I came down and had a look around and thought we'd get away with maybe drying and cleaning the carpets. And then of course we got the second hit when Fox Creek peaked at about 330 cubic metres a second.

"There was no coming back from that. Once that sort of volume of water starts moving down the river, you're in big trouble if you live next to it."