Christchurch residents count cost of flood

11:59 am on 24 July 2017

A Christchurch resident feels abandoned by the city's authorities as he cleans up his property after the weekend flood.

No caption

Jason Burns on his flooded Eastern Terrace property Photo: RNZ / Sebastian Beyrer

Streets in the suburbs of Beckenham, St Martins and Ōpāwa were flooded when the Heathcote River burst its banks in the wake of last week's winter storm, prompting many people to leave their homes.

The state of emergency remains in place in Christchurch today in case floodwaters rise during high tide around 5pm.

Locals say the Heathcote River almost always bursts its banks after heavy rain and some say it could take weeks to clean up.

Eastern Terrace, in Beckenham, is usually a quiet, leafy street but the floodwaters over the weekend turned it into a torrent.

Resident Jason Burns' property is underwater: his back yard is hidden, and his garage flooded.

"All that to clean up and replace... it's going to take days," he said.

But Mr Burns said the floodwater destroyed generators, fridges and a pool table, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

He felt abandoned by the city council and civil defence, he said.

"They didn't come in here... I haven't had any contact anywhere... I haven't seen any authorities."

He estimated the full clean-up would take several weeks.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said the city was well prepared for the storm, but it had been worse than predicted.

The council said it sent out emergency response teams in boats over the weekend to help people out of their homes if needed.

Ms Dalziel said yesterday the teams door-knocked up to about 80 to 100 houses on Saturday morning, and a lot of people had already made the decision to leave their homes based on earlier advice.

She said there were real concerns about contaminated floodwaters, and it was not yet safe enough to lift the state of emergency.

Residents deal with sewage, drains

Receding floodwaters revealed other problems for another resident, Stacey Barlow.

It had left sewage on her drive and back yard and she had called friends to help clean it up.

"I've got friends on the way now with the water blaster... there is poo on the driveway," she said.

"It's just really contaminated.

"We need to get that clear for the kids."

No caption

Gavin Pateman has been trying to clear debris from a drain near his house. Photo: RNZ / Sebastian Beyrer

Further along the road, Gavin Pateman was out with a rake yesterday, trying to find and clear his street's drain - under about a foot of water - so the water surrounding his house could drain away.

He said this should have been the responsibility of the city council.

"The council have been past, which was a bit of a joke... the guy said he couldn't help because he didn't have any gumboots," he said.

"I have still got half a metre of horrible water in the back yard."

Ms Dalziel said the clean-up would be a huge task and there were major contamination threats because of sewage in the floodwaters.

She said while there was not any rain and the wind direction was good, those conditions could change and there was also the threat of high tides combining with floodwaters.

"We've got a series of high tides and there's another high tide that's due later today.

"It is important that people realise it's not over. There is always potential for things to continue to flood again and it does depend on the weather."

She said the state of emergency would be reviewed again tomorrow.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs