Major Flooding In Christchurch, New Zealand
The river broke its banks in the torrential rain, with water covering the neighbouring streets in the suburbs of Beckenham, St Martins and Opawa.
The council had earlier advised people in the lowest areas next to the Heathcote to evacuate their homes, but as high tide drew near, just after 3pm, they were advised to stay put if the flood water was above knee high.
Attention was now turning to the next high tide, at about 3am.
People still in their homes have been advised to stay there, as it would be too dangerous to try and get out in the dark.
Those who did evacuate have been told they should not try to return overnight.
Christchurch civil defence controller Mary Richardson said the water supply was safe to drink, but people should try to keep their waste water to a minimum as the system was already overloaded.
The council said the Coastguard response teams could help people out of their homes if needed.
The Coastguard said the vessel was equipped with emergency lighting, wetsuits and first aid supplies, and the crew could continue evacuations into the evening if required.
The army was also now providing assistance in Christchurch.
A welfare centre has been set up at Linwood College for evacuees.
Emergency work has also been undertaken on the banks of the estuary in Southshore.
The council said three of four low areas had been filled, but that contractors were unlikely to completed the final area before high tide earlier this afternoon and water was likely to come through.
The council says pumps have also been put in place in Southshore to help manage the water.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said Heathcote would be a top priority once the flood recovery swings into action.
Ms Dalziel said stormwater retention in Heathcote had been done, but it overflowed in the heavy rain.
The Minister for Civil Defence said the focus across affected parts of the South Island was now on the response effort – clearing roads, rail and getting people back on their feet.
Nathan Guy flew over the flooded plains of Taieri and spoke with local farmers, who said there was likely to be debris from forestry slash.
He said it would take some time to get tractors to the affected areas to clear stockpiles of feed.
Mr Guy said it came at an unfortunate time for farmers, with the beginning of calving and lambing just around the corner.
Courtesy of radionz.co.nz