National | Canterbury

Cantabrians flee their homes as floodwaters rise

Photo / Newshub

Marae have swung into action in at least one area of Canterbury as a state of emergency is declared in three districts in the region and evacuations take place in other communities.

Canterbury is under a red weather warning with rain, wind and flooding severely affecting the region. It is only the second such warning MetService has issued, with the first in February 2020. Weather updates have suggested this could be a one-in-a-100-year event, with some areas expecting up to three months worth of rain in three days.

Ashburton and Timaru districts in South Canterbury have declared a state of emergency, with concerns the Ashburton River may breach its stopbanks. Up to 3000 homes could be affected, acting Emergency Management Minister Kris Faafoi told media Sunday afternoon. Stuff reports that Hakatere Marae in Ashburton has swung into action to help with welfare needs.

Selwyn District Council has also declared a state of emergency, with Civil Defence warning residents to stay away from floodwater, avoid travel unless absolutely necessary, and check on neighbours if it is safe to do so. If life, health or property is in danger, call 111, they said.

In the communities of Selwyn Huts and Winchester evacuations have begun, while in North Canterbury a driver was found in a serious condition after his car was swept down the Ashley River.

According to Newshub, more than 1000 homes are without power in Christchurch.

Marlborough, eastern Otago and Southland are expecting heavy rain and severe gale force winds. Hokitika and the northern coast of Canterbury above Ashburton, including the Banks Peninsula, are also expected to be impacted by the gale force winds.

"The remainder of Canterbury remains under a strong wind watch, while southern parts of Marlborough are also now covered by a strong wind watch," MetService said.