14 Aug 2017

'There's a small river running down the road'

9:02 pm on 14 August 2017

Torrential rain has turned streets into waterways, closed schools and brought down landslips in parts of Canterbury, but the wild weather is now easing.

Flooding in Leeston in Selwyn District, Canterbury, on Monday 14 August 2017

Flooding in Leeston in Selwyn District: A local primary school was surrounded by water on all sides. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Severe weather warnings have been lifted for the region after a sodden 24 hours.

The Transport Agency said State Highway 75 from Little River to Tai Tapu would remain closed overnight due to flooding.

The Selwyn District and Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula, were among the worst hit on Monday.

The Selwyn District Council said on Monday afternoon that 11 roads were closed and contractors were still assessing roads and bridges. All river fords were closed and unsafe.

It activated its Emergency Operations Centre after receiving calls about surface flooding.

Two schools closed early and Fire and Emergency helped locals put sandbags in place.

One school, Leeston Primary, was completely surrounded by water, with all main entrances blocked.

School principal Lynda Taylor said it was not uncommon for the area to flood, but this was one of the worst she has seen in the last decade.

"This time, it took us a little by surprise because of the suddenness of the rising of the water.

"About lunchtime, we looked out the window and thought 'gosh, there's a small river running down the road'. That's not common."

Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton said the Wainiwaniwa, Hawkins and Hororata rivers have all risen.

Some garages had flood damage but he was not aware of any flooded homes.

The Ministry of Education said, elsewhere, the Windwhistle, Glentunnel, Southbridge, View Hill and Lauriston schools were closed on Monday, while Oxford Area School and North Loburn School asked parents to pick their children up early.

Akaroa hit by almost a month's rain in a day

NIWA said Akaroa received 114.6mm of rain in the 12 hours to 1pm Monday, or 93 percent of its normal total for August.

Akaroa has bore the brunt of wet weather in the Christchurch region as flooding and slips close roads.

The Banks Peninsula township of Akaroa was also hard-hit by the wet weather. Photo: Akaroa Volunteer Fire Brigade

Severe flooding affected parts of the township, closing part of Rue Brittain, while Beach Road was partially blocked by a large slip.

Kerry Mitchell-Bathgate, who owns the Akaroa Village Inn, said she could see some of the damage.

"I'm sitting here on Beach Road, looking out onto the harbour. There is a slip on my left, down in between the Akaroa boat shed and the yacht club. The creeks are overflowing and the harbour has turned into a muddy-coloured cesspool of floodwater.

"It's not a nice day to be here - I hope everybody's staying dry and warm at home."

A flooded stream runs past a house in Akaroa

A flooded stream runs past a house in Akaroa. Photo: Community Members of Akaroa

Meanwhile, the Christchurch City Council said the rain eased in the city on Monday afternoon and there were no reports of serious flooding.

The council said streets flooded in several areas, including Shirley, and several remained closed.

But it said the rain moved south faster than expected and saved the city from more severe rainfall.

Heathcote River

The Heathcote River, which flooded last month, is again running high. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

The council had advised residents in low-lying areas to move cars, and any possessions in garages or under houses where floodwaters might reach.

Drivers warned to take care

MetService said heavy rain and snow above 500m in the region had eased, although a further 10mm of rain could fall in some places south of Christchurch on Monday evening.

The Transport Agency was warning drivers to take care, with SH75 from Little River to Tai Tapu and part of SH77 (Bangor Road) still closed due to flooding.

A number of other warnings were in place for state highways in the region.

A slip covers part of a road in Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.

A slip covers part of a road in Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Photo: Community Members of Akaroa