18 May 2009

South Island cleans up after flooding

9:42 pm on 18 May 2009

Parts of the South Island are drying out as the clean-up continues from flooding at the weekend.

Roads were closed, bridges threatened and rail traffic halted as heavy rain in the headwaters sent massive flows of water downstream in Mid-Canterbury and South Canterbury rivers.

The Rangitata River broke its banks, forcing the closure of State Highway 1 for some time on Sunday and the main trunk rail line between the river and Temuka.

Kiwi Rail says repair crews have worked all day to clear three washouts and the line reopened about 5.30pm on Monday.

A close eye is being kept on the two 100-year-old wooden bridges that cross the Waitaki River at Kurow, although the Transport Agency says there is no immediate danger to traffic.

Slips affect Queenstown roads

Slips and washouts have closed Skippers Road near Queenstown on Monday night.

Queenstown Lakes District Council roading manager Ian Marshall says the road has been narrowed in places and there are dropouts.

Mr Marshall says the Blue Slip has come down and is impassable with other slips on the Branches Rd.

Many other roads around the region are marginal, though passable and repairs are under way, he says.

Canterbury river warnings

Canterbury Regional Council says the worst of the bad weather seems to be over, but rivers are still running high on Monday.

Land owners near the lower Waitaki River have been warned to monitor river levels. Water threatened houses at Waitaki Bridge township on the south side of the river about midday on Monday.

The regional council says the river has been flowing at four times the normal rate and that is expected to continue as power company Meridian continues to spill water from its dams.

It is warning farmers to monitor their river frontage closely for erosion or flooding. A similar warning has been issued for farmers near Rangitata River.

MetService says though cold weather is forecast, there are no more heavy rain warnings in place.