15 Aug 2012

North Otago farmers praying for sunshine

10:45 pm on 15 August 2012

Farming families in North Otago say they are praying for sunshine after three days of rain flooded and isolated their properties.

Civil Defence says the Shag and Kakanui rivers were close to bursting their banks, but peaked overnight on Tuesday and are no longer a threat.

The Kakanui River near Maheno.

The Kakanui River near Maheno. Photo: RNZ

About 20 families have been cut off by flood waters. The rain has stopped, but more than 40 roads are closed in the area on Wednesday, disrupting rural school buses and other travel.

Further south, nine roads are closed on Wednesday, including three in Middlemarch, two in Waikouaiti and part of Mt Cargill Road in Dunedin.

Toko Mouth Road and Akatore Road near Milton in South Otago are also closed.

Otago Regional Council rainfall sites in the region have recorded between 50mm and 200mm over the past three days.

Waitaki Civil Defence estimates it will take weeks to repair all roads.

One of the worst affected-areas has been Chalmers Road near Palmerston.

Farmer Denise Cameron says the road's 11 households became cut off when the Shag River knocked out two bridges and the road was washed away in places. Contractors have repaired one way.

Ms Cameron says because the ground is so wet, it does not take much to make everything very messy and everyone is longing for some sun to dry the land out.

Dairy farmer Evan Hurst says his herd of 700 cows at Island Farm near Waikouaiti is calving, and he is going round at least five times a day picking up calves from the mud and taking them to shelter.