The state of emergency in Canterbury will be in effect for another week.

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The mayors of Ashburton, Selwyn, and Waimakariri districts believe the prolonged state of emergency will help Canterbury’s worst-affected flood communities recover.

Thompsons Track in Mid Canterbury was washed out by floods after days of heavy rainfall.

Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

The state of emergency will stay in effect in certain areas for a week, but will be abolished elsewhere in the area.

This follows heavy rain earlier this week, which caused pandemonium by causing many people to leave and severely damage roadways.

Farmers were attempting to rehabilitate their land, cattle, and fences, according to Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown.

“Our local road network, we’ve had a good view of it now and places of it are severely damaged. It’s going to take a wee bit of time to get that up and running again – that’s our focus now … and also looking out for the welfare of our people.”

Brown said the longer state of emergency meant they would have the reassurance to keep moving in the recovery phase.

Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton agreed, saying they had more authority under a state of emergency.

“If you needed extra powers you might have to go back to the minister on a case-by-case basis to request the powers for particular actions. This way it just means recovery managers can get on with things rather than needing to re-negotiate with Wellington,” Broughton told Morning Report.

In particular, he said some road repairs may require those powers.

“It will rain again this winter and we don’t want to have another situation like this that could have been avoided if we’d got on and rebuilt stopbanks and done other work.”

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Flooding at Selwyn Huts, Canterbury.

Flooding at Selwyn Huts, Canterbury. Photo: Pool / Stuff / Chris Skelton

Those in rural areas, like Springfield, were particularly badly hit than metropolitan places, he said.

“A flyover yesterday showed there was a lot of fields where water has come on to those fields and caused a lot of problems.

“There’s thousands and thousands of dollars of work to bring farms back to where they were and winter feed will be short for some farmers because it has just been washed away. So the stresses of last weekend were immediate for some and will certainly be ongoing for many in our community in the coming months.”

The washout of roads was also a concern for Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon, who said contractors were assessing how to complete repairs in Lees Valley to keep farmers connected to the Oxford community.

“We’ve got 27 rapid assessments being undertaken and that’s from anything, welfare to buildings … and that’s to ensure that we’re connected to what’s happening on those particular properties and the support that we need to wrap around those people,” Gordon told Morning Report.

“But really getting all the emergency work done as soon as possible is a priority for us.”

Lees Valley - New Zealand Air Force Flight in NH90 with Mayor Dan Gordon, Road and Bridge Engineers and Civil Defence staff.  Inspected bridges and talked to residents in Lees Valley who were isolated by the flooding.

Lees Valley residents were left isolated by the flooding. Photo: Supplied / Waimakariri District Council

Support for farmers

Brown stated that insurance assessors had arrived to inspect the residences of those who had been relocated due to flood damage. Those who had been displaced had another option for housing, he added.

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Farmers needed help with clean-ups, he added, and there had been offers of assistance. He invited people interested in volunteering to contact Federated Farmers.

Selwyn had some displaced persons as well, but they were being accommodated.

“I think it’s really hard to ask for help for some people and often it’s been neighbours requesting that you know, perhaps we should check on someone that they’ve seen that might need a bit of extra assistance,” Broughton said.

“I’d just say if you’re still feeling like the effects of the flood are immediate for you and you haven’t had the support that you think you need, please reach out, call 0800 SELWYN and connect with the team who want to help and working across agencies.”

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Photo: RNZ / Nate Mckinnon

Waimakariri residents in need of assistance due to the floods can call their council – on 0800 965 468 – who will connect them to the relevant service.

“Our community is one that really does care,” Gordon said.

“I’ve come to see the great community spirit come out through this and other emergency events we’ve had, so reach out if you need support.”

Federated Farmers South Canterbury president Greg Anderson told Morning Report heavy machinery and diggers were needed to create channels for the rivers to return to their normal courses.

Anderson said local authorities were looking at ways to divert rivers and clear the water off farmers’ land.

Volunteers and the community had offered help to struggling farmers, he said.

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