Flooding strands 200 people, water contaminated, rain to batter parts of NZ

Some South Island residents are waking up to contaminated water supplies and “overwhelmed” wastewater systems – meaning no toilet flushing – after a night of heavy rain.

And there’s more to come today.

Thunderstorms in parts of the lower South Island sparked flooding and slips that closed state highways and caused havoc for holidaymakers.

Sandbag stations were opened in Dunedin and Queenstown collected almost 8mm of rain.

Just after 6am authorities issued a new warning for the Otago area.

“The heavy rain continuing through the night may have caused the wastewater system to be overwhelmed in places and there may be overflows onto roads,” said the Dunedin City Council.

“People should stay out of any floodwaters and treat them as contaminated.”

Festival-goers stranded

Two hundred people are stranded after the rising water of Silverstream cut off the Whare Flat Folk Festival, northwest of Dunedin yesterday.

Festival organiser Kathryn Olcott said that the ford in Silverstream Valley Rd is closed and festival-goers at the site would be unable to leave until this morning.

She could not say exactly how many people remained at the festival.

Some festival-goers managed to get out before the ford was closed shortly after mid-day today.

The festival’s final night of performances would go ahead today, she said.

Don’t flush toilets

Overnight residents in Middlemarch were advised not to flush their toilets and avoid drinking water from bores as it was likely to be contaminated.

The Dunedin City Council advised earlier this morning that residents and visitors to the area should take care.

“With the inclement weather the wastewater system has been overwhelmed and we would ask that you refrain from flushing your toilet until further notice,” a notice said.

“Extensive flooding and wastewater surcharges have affected Middlemarch and residents are being advised not to drink water from bores unless they treat the water with a filter or similar as it is likely to be contaminated.”

Water will be available from a tanker beside the Strath-Taieri Community Centre from approximately midday today and people were advised to bring clean containers to fill.

“Sandbags will also be available at this location,” said a council spokesperson.

“The overflows are contained on roads, but people should stay out of floodwaters in these areas and treat them as contaminated.”

People in the southern area were also being told to “avoid travel on the roads unless absolutely necessary.”

Elsewhere, hundreds of people were also left stranded at the Whare Flat Folk Festival, northwest of Dunedin, after flooding closed the road in.

And campers in parts of the lower South Island were warned to move to higher ground, while those in Otago planning to start the commute home were urged to delay their travel until today.

Weather forecasts for around NZ

This morning MetService said it also been a wet night in eastern Bay of Plenty with heavy showers and thunderstorms – and Whakatane has already racked up more than 40mm since midnight with still more on the way

Today the North Island can expect more showers – some heavy, with thunderstorms, hail and downpours possible, mainly this afternoon and evening.

In Horowhenua to Wellington there will be cloudy periods with a few showers some heavy about the Kapiti Coast until evening.

Marlborough and Nelson can expect cloudy periods with isolated showers about the ranges and there will be rain with heavy falls and thunderstorms possible, easing to showers this evening in Buller and Westland.

In Canterbury – the rain continues.

“A few showers, with thunderstorms possible, mainly this afternoon and evening,” said a MetService spokesperson.

“Downpours and hail possible south of Timaru from this afternoon.”

Otago, Southland and Fiordland will continue to be wet and wild with periods of rain, heavy at times along with thunderstorms, downpours and possible hail possible.

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