Oamaru and the Waitaki are in full recovery mode with large amounts of work to be done to repair flood damage to infrastructure around the district.
Last Friday, Oamaru experienced its wettest day since daily rainfall records started in 1950, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
An astonishing 161.2mm was recorded over a 24-hour period.
The deluge means this winter is already the wettest on record, despite being only about half over.
A large number of residential and commercial properties, including the Waitaki District Council offices, suffered flood damage and five Oamaru properties were damaged in localised slips, three seriously.
The Duntroon, Otematata, Lower Waitaki and Hampden-Moeraki water supplies were all on boil-water notices; and several properties experienced sewage contamination after widespread flooding in the north end of Oamaru. Those properties have been decontaminated using pumps, water blasting and lime.
Waitaki District Council acting chief executive Neil Jorgensen said after an extensive assessment of roads on Monday that it appeared flood damage was not as severe as first thought, and much of it was “superficial”.
Sections where there was scouring needed repair, while the Humber St and Otiake bridges sustained more significant damage and would take some time to be fixed.
Several roads that had been closed due to flooding have since reopened, but 14 were still off limits as of Wednesday afternoon.
There was also coastal erosion near Orere Point, and Waianakarua Rd was reduced to one lane.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said council staff had been “working hard” to assess damage to infrastructure and private property.
He said 15 council contractors and subcontractors were working to fix roads and clear slips, while the council’s water team was working with people impacted by flooding.
Mr Kircher praised the response of emergency services and staff based at Waitaki’s Civil Defence emergency centre throughout the Friday and into Saturday.
“I’m really pleased with how smoothly things went,” Mr Kircher said.
“The reality was we were actually fairly short-staffed due to the timing being holidays for a few people and also illness taking out a few.
“Everyone really stepped up. We have certainly vastly improved our communication from recent times when I was quite critical about that and I think the public really appreciated the amount of communication that was coming out.
“It’s always difficult in an event like this to deal with everything that comes up as quickly as people would want it to, but that’s the nature of such emergency events.”
The financial cost to the council was likely to be “a bit higher” than the $1 million estimated earlier this week, but the overall cost to the district would be greater, he said.
Some of the cost to the council would be covered by insurance and the balance was likely to be funded through existing council reserves and its disaster fund reserve.
North Otago Federated Farmers vice-president Lyndon Strang, who farms at Five Forks, said it appeared rural areas were not impacted as much by the flooding.
“To be honest, town probably got hit harder than the rural areas, especially the further inland you went,” Mr Strang said.
“Most guys had plenty of warning so they acted on it. The closer we got the more accurate the forecast got .. so I think most people dodged a bit of a bullet.”
He said the biggest issue that faced many farmers now was “messed up paddocks”.
However, many were thankful the rain came when it did.
“It’s right at the start of calving, so you’ve got a bit of a situation where it could have been a lot worse if it was in two or three weeks.”
Damien McNamara, of Altitude Surveying, shot drone footage of the flooding that was featured on Seven Sharp this week.
He said the amount of water was an “amazing sight”.
“It sort of went from whoa to go in no time. I was a bit wary about when I would put the drone up because of the rain, but I picked and chose my times and got some good shots.
“It was quite a surreal experience seeing how much rain we did see.”