23 Jun 2013

Mid-Canterbury residents asked to minimise water use

10:00 pm on 23 June 2013

Residents in mid-Canterbury are being asked to continue to minimise water use as large parts of the district remain flooded.

Pumping systems are working again in Leeston, Doyleston and Tai Tapu, but the Selwyn District Council has been unable to open an outlet at Lake Ellesmere to release floodwater from Tai Tapu to the sea.

The Selwyn District Council says residents still need to minimise water use with showers, dishwashers and washing machines to reduce the pressure on their flooded sewers.

Pumps began working again on Sunday morning but there is a huge amount of water to be drained away.

Civil defence controller Douglas Marshall says staff are struggling to gain access to an outlet at Lake Ellesmere which would release floodwaters around Tai Tapu to the sea.

Further south, Federated Farmers, says isolated farmers are struggling under huge volumes of snow in areas such as Naseby and Duntroon. Volunteers are being organised to help with snow raking.

Wellington households still without power

Powerful southerly gales on Thursday night initially cut electricity supplies to up to 30,000 households in the Wellington region, and by Sunday all but 600 had power reconnected.

Wellington Electricity chef executive Greg Skelton says more and more faults are becoming apparent.

Roads in the region are now open except Paekakariki Hill Road which will be closed for some time and part of Makara Road, which will be impassable for the next three days.

Trains are being replaced by buses from Petone to Wellington until Tuesday while the harbour wall is repaired.

Roads reopen

The Desert Road, State Highway 1, in the central North Island, and alpine passes in the South Island have reopened after being closed by snow on Saturday.

The Transport Agency says chains must be used in Porters Pass and Burkes Pass in Canterbury and is advising drivers to carry chains on Lindis Pass in North Otago.

MetService has lifted all snowfall warnings but says the heavy snow lying in rural parts of the South Island will take several days to melt.

Insurers predict costly storm damage bill

The Insurance Council believes the cost of the latest series of storms will run into tens of millions of dollars.

A bitterly cold storm front moved up the country last week bringing ferocious gales, and rain to the Wellington region, Nelson and large parts of the eastern South Island, cutting roads, washing out sea walls and flooding homes. Many areas have been under under thick layers of snow.

The Insurance Council expects the bill for damage to be higher than the $36 million cost of storms in April that caused serious damage in Nelson, Bay of Plenty and parts of Waikato.

The council says the latest bad weather hit a wider region of the country, and there has been significant damage in the Wellington area, which has a higher population density.

"Usually when you get that combination of extreme weather event and high population, then you get a high concentration of damage, " council chief executive Tim Grafton says.