A local state of emergency has been declared in the Timaru District in Canterbury Region, New Zealand, due to the flooding in the Rangitata area. Timaru Distrct Council warned that the Rangitata River could its highest levels in 20 years.
Around 300mm of rain fell in the upper catchment of the Rangitata River from 05 to early 06 December. As of the afternoon of 07 December, the Rangitata River was flowing at around 2265 cubic metres a second (cumecs) and was rising rapidly. Timaru Distrct Council said that extreme flows of 3000 cumecs or more are anticipated on 07 December, the highest in 20 years. This extended period of very high flows increases significantly the risk of further bank erosion and breakout flows.
Campers along the river have been told to evacuate and authorities warned people in Rangitata Township to be ready to evacuate at short notice. At least 7 roads in the area have been closed in affected areas.
The Council said that “some floodwater is currently flowing down the South Branch, and there are several other vulnerable areas along the river that are at risk of river breakouts. The extreme flows expected today will increase outflows into those areas already flooding as well as increase the chance of issues developing on other parts of the river.”
Queenstown-Lakes District, Otago Region
Meanwhile, heavy rain has caused problems in Otago Region where water levels of lakes in Queenstown-Lakes District are rising fast, threatening to flood lakeshore areas of Wānaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy.
Update, 08 December 2019:
Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said floods and landslides blocked roads leaving around 1,000 people stranded, many of them tourists, in the west coast towns of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.
UPDATE 4:15PM#SH6 remains CLOSED from Hokitika to Makarora (Otago). Crews have assessed parts of the road & Haast Pass (Haast to Makarora) is expected to re-open to ONE LANE tomorrow at 10am, & then fully CLOSE again at 4pm. ^ELhttps://t.co/YlEUEmT8pw
— NZTA Canterbury/WC (@NZTACWC) December 7, 2019
Rangitata River in flood this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/TIoekOAe0q
— Peter Carrell ن (@petercarrell) December 7, 2019
The @OtagoRC has posted a number of updates regarding water levels, with maps estimating areas in Wānaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy that may be affected by flooding if forecast rainfall continues. Check them out there https://t.co/BRgAu5wu5x pic.twitter.com/4EMxQcNsFk
— QLDC (@QueenstownLakes) December 5, 2019
Cometh the flood, cometh the volunteers! Today's International Volunteers Day, so a big shout out and thanks to all who helped fill sandbags and shift stock in Wanaka. pic.twitter.com/28R2Bpf4Z9
— Otago CDEM (@OtagoCDEM) December 5, 2019