7 Jun 2012

Emergency housing urged for next big snowfall

9:07 pm on 7 June 2012

Calls for emergency accommodation to be provided next time a major snow storm hits Christchurch are being backed by groups working with the city's earthquake survivors.

Cancern, an advocacy group for those with earthquake damaged homes, wants emergency accommodation set up during the next snow storm for the many people living in damaged homes and in temporary accommodation.

Spokesperson for the Wider Earthquake Recovery Network, Reverend Mike Coleman, says many people are forced to stay in badly damaged homes due to the delays in repairs and shortage of suitable rental properties.

He says when snow hits it exacerbates the problems, and providing temporary shelter is an excellent idea.

A fine, clear day did little to reduce the snow dump around Christchurch city on Thursday as the maximum temperature reached just 4.3 degrees.

Forecasters say a northerly change overnight should see temperatures hover just above freezing but the police are still advising extreme caution with freezing of snowmelt likely to produce black ice in some places.

Lines company Orion says it started Thursday with 1700 customers without power, and had knocked that back to 200 by the time it stood down its repair crews as darkness fell.

Most of the remaining outages are in rural parts of West Canterbury, particularly around Castle Hill, where repair crews are being hampered by heavy snow.

Many problems have involved trees falling on powerlines or hanging too close to the line, causing arcing. Work will begin again at first light on Friday morning.

Temperatures fell to minus-10 degrees in parts of Canterbury on Wednesday night: and 24 hours later parts of the Summit Road over the Port Hills remained shut, while Transport Agency contractors face an uphill battle to re-open the Lewis and Arthurs Passes.

Bealey Avenue in Christchurch.

Bealey Avenue in Christchurch. Photo: RNZ

Christchurch City Council and police say the re-freeze of snowmelt overnight means motorists should take extreme care. So far 15 minor car accidents have been reported, with no injuries or major damage.

St John's ambulance service says it went to the aid of 24 people hurt in falls on snow or ice in Canterbury.

Canterbury University, Christchurch courts and sport centers were expected to fully re-open on Friday and bus services to return to normal.

Councill Maintenance operations manager Malcolm Park says there were a number of road closures, mostly in the hill suburbs. Road conditions are slippery in eastern parts of the city.

The postal service was again disrupted in other parts of the South Island on Thursday.

Mail deliveries were suspended in Christchurch and delays are expected in Ashburton, Nelson and Blenheim.

Air New Zealand says that during the day several flights to other parts of the country were delayed up to 90 minutes by the icy conditions in Christchurch.