Clean-up from Southland flooding begins as weather clears

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Council workers are checking for damage after weekend flooding in Southland and civil defence is following up with people whose homes were affected.

Flood sign near Rakaia Gorge

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Some coastal areas endured 24 hours of constant rainfall over the weekend, leading to widespread flooding, from Riverton to the Catlins, affecting local roads.

Edendale and Riverton each had more than 50mm of rain, while properties in Invercargill and a home in Otatara were flooded.

At one point the region’s roads were so swamped that contractors were running out of signs to mark unsafe roads.

By yesterday river levels returned to normal, and most of the water drained away.

While the weather has cleared, more rain is forecast overnight and tomorrow morning, along with northwest gales gusting up to 120 km/h in exposed places.

Southland civil defence controller Angus McKay said they will be following up with people whose houses were affected, finding out where the worst flooding remains and clearing up.

“The water was still quite high when it got dark last night, and today’s a day of trying to evaluate any significant damage and making sure than anybody who needs any help gives us a ring and we’ll see what we can do to support them today.

“We had flooding right across the region yesterday from Riverton, quite a few houses were impacted in Invercargill, and then rural Southland out to the east was really affected by the surface water.”

The Rural Support Trust was meeting this morning to work out what was needed by the rural community in the east of Southland, he said.

Southland mayor Gary Tong said council staff are out this morning checking roads and culverts, especially around the towns and stormwater drains.

“Its certainly cleared up, but everything’s pretty sodden as you can imagine, so any rain that does come is going to more than likely run off than go into the ground.”

Wyndham farmer Dean Rabbidge said it had been a tough time over the last week.

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday was snow flurries and blizzards and gale force winds that did a lot of damage and … now we’ve been hit with 80mm of rain in the last 10 hours, so it hasn’t been much fun this week.”

He said he was doing as much as he could to shelter newborn lambs but feared some would not survive.

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