Several cities in New Zealand’s South Island declared a state of emergency on Saturday as heavy rain caused flooding in Christchurch and nearby cities, with hundreds of homes evacuated.
Due to continuous heavy rain, the Heathcote River burst its banks in south Christchurch and wastewater has been overflowing into streets.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel declared a local state of emergency in Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, as a precautionary measure to allow the government to “prepare fully for any issues that may arise with the high tide,” according to the Christchurch City Council website.
The Council urged people in flooded areas to stay in their houses and wait for help, if the water was above knee level around the houses, because it was dangerous to leave.
The Council had previously advised people to evacuate their homes, or go to the Civil Defence Centre, but the rapid increase of water levels after high tides prompted the government to change plans.
Many roads in Christchurch are flooded and closed around the river, and continue to be closed.
Response teams on jet skis and boats are checking on people in flooded areas. Some support is being provided from the army to assist affected people out of their homes. People were advised to call the Council Call Centre if they are concerned about their safety or want help to evacuate.
Three of the four low areas along the estuary edge at Southshore have been filled, and contractors are working on the final point. Pumps have been put in place in several areas to help manage the water, according to the Council.
Multiple agencies are now responding, with the Council and Civil Defence working closely with the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and the Red Cross, among others, reports Xinhua, Wellington.