Last week, many Christchurch residents woke up to yet another unexpected natural disaster, this time severe flooding.
It happened very quickly. We’d watched the stories in the UK of endless weeks of rain, yet for us, in the space of a day and a night of rain, along with a high tide, Christchurch residents faced another challenging disaster. Roads were cut off, power lines down, houses and garages inundated with contaminated flood water and for some, tap water was cut off.
Multiple slips and landslides, burst pipes, and road closures due to high water levels affected the Banks Peninsula suburbs, including Akaroa, Lytelton, Governors Bay, and Diamond Harbour. In Christchurch the Flockton basin, St Albans, Heathcote Valley, New Brighton and Sumner where this photo was taken were among the Christchurch suburbs hard hit by flooding.
Landslips in Lytelton meant that residents had to evacuate homes, and blocked stormwater drains meant mud and silt went through other homes. For those living close to the Avon Otakaro river and Heathcote/Opawa river, and in the Flockton basin, residents faced the frightening experience of seeing the rivers and former drains, now streams, continue to rise. No amount of sandbags were able to prevent floodwaters spilling out onto roads and into homes.
Thanks must go to the local fire service, and especially all of the volunteer fire fighters out there who worked relentlessly to try and help as many residents as possible. Also to neighbours who helped other neighbours in need – that is the Christchurch we have grown to know, where communities pull together in adversity.
But we also need better warning systems and infrastructure. We were told to expect wild weather, strong winds and rainfall, but not the flooding that occurred. The flooding was then made worse by the very high tide, which meant the rivers and estuary were higher. Water which normally would have flowed out through the estuary, backed up, worsening the flooding. It is clear that the capacity of our stormwater infrastructure is not adequate, and that some land has become increasingly prone to flooding because of the land damage caused by the earthquakes.
Thankfully though, the rain has stopped now and we’ve had a weekend to clean-up, but we need a long term solution for resident who have had mucky sewage contaminated water through their homes and properties. This is why the Greens are suggesting a blue zone to present a longer-term solution.
Kia Kaha Christchurch.