Thousands of houses in New Zealand's Canterbury area were at risk of flooding. Residents along the Ashburton River were prepared for a mass evacuation on Sunday, officials said, as heavy rain continued to raise water levels.

Heavy Rains Flood Miami
(Photo : Photo by Robert King/ Newsmakers)

Red Alert

Acting Minister for Emergency Management Kris Faafoi said in a televised briefing that 3,000 houses were at risk of flooding after New Zealand's MetService issued a red warning for heavy rain in Canterbury and several signs elsewhere.

"This is just MetService's second red warning, and it will be a big weather event," the service stated on its website.

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Affected Areas

According to New Zealand media, the Timaru and Ashburton districts have declared a state of emergency as well, with some evacuations already underway on Sunday.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their houses in north Canterbury, and hundreds more in Ashburton are on alert as rivers flow through the area, fueled by a once-in-a-100-year rainfall.

The whole Canterbury area is now under a state of emergency, and around 75 schools and pre-schools will be closed on Monday as people brace for even more disruption.

Ashburton Water Level

(Photo : Getty Images)

As the river levels rose overnight, Ashburton mayor Neil Brown said some residents had already begun to evacuate.

The Ashburton District Council has issued a warning that polluted floodwater from the overflowing Ashburton wastewater treatment plant near Wilkins Rd might be entering Carters Creek, which feeds Lake Hood.

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Water Safety

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(Photo : Pixabay)

Residents are being urged to stay away from floodwaters after wastewater from the Ashburton pond treatment plant on Wilkins Road in Tinwald overflowed. Floodwater is currently mingling with potentially polluted water downstream of Wilkins Road. This is a threat to the public's health. In addition, wastewater is being discharged into Carters Creek, which is a tributary of Lake Hood. Residents should stay away from the water, assuming it is poisoned. If you become soaked from floodwaters, change out of your wet clothes and shoes and sent them away to be laundered later. Wash any skin that has come into contact with floodwaters as soon as possible, and wash your hands as soon as you can - or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


People who come into touch with floods should clean themselves and their clothes as soon as possible, and wash their hands as well.

Focusing on the Matter

(Photo : Getty Images)

According to The New Zealand Herald, the mayor of Ashburton, a town of roughly 35,000 people on New Zealand's South Island, "half of Ashburton" might be compelled to flee if the river's banks collapse.

Due to slides and floods, several routes, including vital State Highways, have been blocked. For the most up-to-date information on road closures, go here.

So far, four bridges in the Ashburton District have been swept away, and over 20 highways have been stopped.

Several regions of the region have been evacuated due to flooding, including Ashburton, Selwyn, Timaru, and Waimakariri. However, some people in the Waimakariri District have been permitted to return to their houses.

Rain is expected to persist until Monday, according to Faafoi.

"We're keeping a close eye on everything," he remarked. 

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