A Month’s Rain in 24 Hours Floods Christchurch

Storms, gale force winds and heavy rainfall left areas of Christchurch, New Zealand, under water yesterday Tuesday 4 March 2014. The storm affected areas along New Zealand’s eastern coast from Canterbury to Wellington and Wairarapa. Sugarloaf on top of the Port Hills was battered by 160 kmh winds, while 10 metre high waves battered the Canterbury coastline.

The storm has been described as a once in 100 years event. Christchurch hasn’t seen this much rainfall in a 24 hour period since 1975. As much as 160mm of rain fell on Lyttelton in just 24 hours.

Earlier today, Christchurch City Council Said:

The rainfall has been a lot heavier than forecasted, with almost 100 millimetres falling in the past 24 hours and a further 20 millimetres expected to fall before the rain eases off. This is equivalent to a one-in-50-year event.

A flooded road in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the heaviest rainfall in 40 years hit the city. Photo: CharlotteRyanNZ
A flooded road in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the heaviest rainfall in 40 years hit the city.
Photo: CharlotteRyanNZ

Roads have been blocked and closed. Many schools and council services have been suspended and the postal services have also been affected. Although transport has been badly hit, currently Christchurch Airport is open and all flights are arriving and departing as normal. There were also interruptions in power supply and at one point 4600 homes were without electricity.

Local media reported that there were at least 300 calls made to the emergency services during the worst of the storm. Some of the emergency call-outs were for cars and trucks stick in flood water.

Some reports say the worst of the flooding was mainly around the Heathcote and Avon river areas. By late Wednesday 5 March 2014, the flood waters had started to recede once the storm had passed. However, residents now face a massive clean-up. More than 100 properties have been flooded, mainly in the worst-hit suburbs of Mairehau, St Albans and Richmond 100s of people, including around 20 families in Lyttelton, have evacuated from the homes and are staying in temporary accommodation.

Consequences of the 2011 Earthquake

Some local residents are claiming that the issues of flooding have been made worse by the damage done to the area during the terrible earthquake of February 2011, where 185 people were killed. The earthquake changed the levels of the land and streets. One resident quoted by Radio NZ said that the quake had a significant impact on the ground in her street, which dropped by 50 centimetres, and the infrastructure can’t cope. She said it never flooded before the quakes.

Needless to say, some water sports enthusiasts couldn’t resist taking to the flood waters:

Sources: NZ Press; Radio NZ; NZ Herald; Christchurch City Council