14 Feb 2017

Dunedin flash flood: 'It was filling a 20-litre bucket in less than a minute'

7:48 pm on 14 February 2017

Officials did all they could to prepare for a flash flood yesterday that flooded businesses and properties, Dunedin City Council says.

The Pascoes jewellery store in central Dunedin was closed down by flash flooding.

The Pascoes jewellery store in central Dunedin was closed down by flash flooding. Photo: RNZ / Lydia Anderson

An intense hail and rain storm hammered the city and the deluge of water overwhelmed drains and pipes on George Street.

Noel Leeming regional manager Mark Ahlfeld said a huge amount of water came through the ceiling and the store had to be evacuated.

"It was filling a 20-litre bucket in less than a minute so there was quite a bit of water coming through in different parts of the roof."

The hail, followed by the "torrential" rain, was too much for the building's downpipes to handle, he said.

The store was closed today as contractors worked hard to repair the damage, and Mr Ahlfeld hoped it would be able to re-open tomorrow.

Across the street at the Wall St mall, some businesses were busy drying their stores with industrial dryers and dehumidifiers.

Miracle clothing co-owner Harriet Moir said water poured down the mall's side entrance, down a ramp and into her shop.

She would like to see the return of sandbags positioned on nearby St Andrews Street, that businesses could use to divert water if such an event happened again, she said.

Marbecks chef Dominic Sturt said he and other staff grabbed teatowels and floor mats to try to stop the water coming through the mall's side entrance.

Central Dunedin was hit by a powerful storm this afternoon.

Central Dunedin was hit by a powerful storm yesterday afternoon. Photo: RNZ / Lydia Anderson

Council acting transport manager Richard Saunders said the council did what it could to prepare for the forecast bad weather.

"It was forecast, perhaps not to that extent, but the contractors had been out in the morning - some additional crews - just to clear debris and things from around drains and mud tanks just to ensure that we'd done all we could before that event."

The council would undertake a review of the drainage near the Wall St mall to see if improvements could be made, Mr Saunders said.

The council said in some hill suburbs, water overflowed from gutters onto footpaths or properties, and vegetation and debris washed down onto some mud tank grates, temporarily blocking them.

Twelve crews of contractors worked until about 8pm last night clearing away debris, and resumed today.

The council said it received 105 calls during the storm, and 23 reports of flooding in garages, land, houses or businesses.