Flooding closes SH1

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State Highway One at Hilderthorpe has been closed again as a result of flooding from heavy rain which struck the region on Monday.

Diversions were in place at Corbett Rd and Georgetown-Pukeuri Rd until the road could be reopened.

NZ Transport Agency journey manager Graeme Hall said the water was slowly receding and if there was not any further rain, the highway was expected to open by mid-morning today.

“There is now less than a metre of water across two sections of the highway, one at the 45th Parallel and the other opposite the Waitaki Golf Course.

“While a lot of drainage work ┬áhas been carried out on State Highway One at Hilderthorpe in recent times and has improved the flooding situation, during periods of very heavy rain, water is still finding its way across the highway. “

They would be working with parties including the Waitakai District Council and the Otago Regional Council to resolve this in the future, he said.

Waitaki District Council emergency services manager Chris Raine said unlike the Easter flooding, it was a coastal event and affected Oamaru more than inland areas.

Firefighters had to pump out eight houses as a result of flooding on Monday and Whitestone Contracting was deployed to sandbag at least four properties, Mr Raine said.

“Because it is now almost May it is going to take at least four to six weeks to dry out.”

Light to moderate rain would be fine, however, the land would not be able to cope with more heavy rain, he said.

“People need to be prepared.”

Road networks could close, power could be cut and people would be isolated so they needed to have emergency kits as well as get away kits if evacuation is necessary, he said.

“People will need to stay home, stay safe and stay warm.”

There were still a number of roads that were closed or unstable so people were encouraged not to go site seeing, he said.

The Civil Defence emergency operations centre was opened on Monday afternoon, however welfare centres were not needed, Mr Raine said.

By RUBY HARFIELD