Health warnings after dozens of Chch properties flooded

8:44 pm on 24 July 2017

Authorities are continuing to monitor Christchurch's Heathcote River after dozens of homes were flooded during torrential rain over the weekend.

The water was expected to reach its peak at 6.30pm during the high tide, but it appeared to have passed without any issues.

The authorities say so far, 30 properties have been flooded above floor level and another 27 have flooding above foundation level.

The Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey is advising anyone still living in those homes to leave as soon as possible, and to stay away.

So far, 30 homes have been flooded above floor level, say authorities, after the Heathcote River burst its banks on the weekend.

So far, 30 homes have been flooded above floor level, say authorities. Photo: RNZ / Sebastian Beyrer

Dr Humphrey is also warning residents to treat all water as contaminated and said families should not move back into damp houses, particularly if they had young children or babies.

And he advised people to sterilise their hands after any contact with floodwaters or silt from inside affected properties. Local council websites should also be checked for notices to boil drinking water.

Dr Humphrey said those struggling to cope could contact their usual general practice, even after hours, as a nurse would be available to provide health advice.

Civil Defence response teams - with building inspectors and welfare officers - have been visiting residents still living in badly flood-affected properties this afternoon to assess their needs.

The Earthquake Commission said flood-affected residents had three months to file a land claim.

The commission covers damage to residential land that's been caused by storms or floods and, in some cases, damage to bridges, culverts and retaining walls. It said people with flood-affected homes but no land damage should contact their insurers.

Residents demanding answers

River water contaminated with raw sewage flooded garages and sleepouts and was within millimetres of entering homes at the weekend.

Residents in Opawa are demanding answers from the council over why the area continues to be hit with flooding.

John Woodward didn't have time to remove his things from his garage before close to 1m of water entered it on Friday night, submersing everything inside.

"Most of what we have is stored [in the garage] ... a lot of it is stuff like the kid's toys when they were little, books ... and it's all been under water. I've got to take it to the dump."

Because this area is a known flood risk, Mr Woodward's insurer requires him to pay a $2000 excess before it will contribute towards replacing any damaged goods.

"If it's going to cost me less than $2000 to fix it up, I'm not going to claim."

Bruce Kane is unhappy with the council around what he said was its lack of action on preventing flooding in the area.

"It's so frustrating because nobody has done any bloody thing, that's what really pisses me off."

Bruce Kane said there was a lack of action on preventing flooding in the area.

Bruce Kane said there was a lack of action on preventing flooding in the area. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The last time Christchurch had flooding like this three years ago, the water made it all the way in to Mr Kane's home.

This time it came as high as his outdoor table, flooding his sleepout and garage but stopping short of coming indoors.

However, the home's bearers got wet and the rotten smell that hangs in the air outside has also made it indoors.

Since the floods of 2014, the Christchurch City Council has spent $25 million on flood protection works in and around the Heathcote River.

It plans to spend a further $52m before next winter.

However its drainage manager, Keith Davidson, said even after all of this work, there were no guarantees residents would not be flooded again.

The council will make a call tomorrow morning on whether to lift the state of emergency that has been in place since the weekend to help it deal with the floods.

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