24 Nov 2018

Henley a focus for authorities as weekend rain approaches

12:56 pm on 24 November 2018

A small group of Henley locals will attempt to evacuate from the flooded Otago town this afternoon before another dose of heavy rain hits.

A road to Henley is cut off after heavy rain flooded Otago.

A road to Henley is cut off after heavy rain flooded Otago. Photo: RNZ / Jonathon Mitchell

The area remains cut off after the rain earlier in the week which brought widespread flooding and swollen rivers, and MetService is forecasting more to come - the heaviest of it tomorrow.

Henley resident Jock Hartigan is part of the group trying to leave.

He said while the river was starting to recede, there were concerns that further rain this afternoon would cause it to rise again.

"We're hoping to get out, this water's going to stick around for days on end it's not going to go away, and we've got another rain event happening later this afternoon so it could come back up again, so it's a small window of opportunity while it's low tide to get in and out."

Work is under way to clear culverts, drains and driveway crossings in Henley but a proper clean-up is yet to begin as hundreds of hectares of land and roads are still under water.

A welfare co-ordinator at the Dunedin City Council, Simon Pickford, said the authorities were monitoring river levels.

"We will kick into action if we need, step up from the monitoring mode into active monitoring in our civil defence bunker and then obviously if it turns worse then it will be a declared emergency but we've got a long way to go before then so we're obviously hoping for the best but planning for the worst."

Otago Regional Council's science, hazard and engineering director, Gavin Palmer, said Henley had flooded seven times in the past 14 years, most recently in July last year.

Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Tapanui a notice is in place for residents to conserve water.

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