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Wild weather work

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29 May 2021

Wild weather events require Citycare Water’s teams to be on-call 24 hours, ready to get stuck in when the community needs them as storms hit.

Severe flooding can often be mitigated by preparation and hard work and sometimes natural forces even lend a hand.

That was the case during an emergency wet weather response over the ANZAC long weekend in Christchurch, when low tide coincided with the storm and allowed diggers to be used on the beaches.

MetService warned that Canterbury should expect severe thunderstorms on the night of April 24 accompanied by very heavy rain and large hail.

That forecast prompted the Christchurch Water Teams to step into action.

“We were in luck – the tides were on our side as we can’t access the outfalls at high tide because they are underwater,” Team Manager Mel Cameron says.

In advance of the forecast rain, stormwater outfalls on the beach at Sumner and New Brighton were pre-emptively opened and cleared at low tide in the morning by a 5-tonne digger and 1.5-tonne digger, respectively, Mel says.

Nonetheless, Mother Nature created havoc that night.

Beachside streets in both locations and businesses on the main road at Sumner were flooded so the outfalls needed to be opened again to stop the flooding as the tide cycle had shifted more sand into the outfalls.

“The outfalls get rid of the water faster,” Mel says.

“They work like a cork – when you pop the cork the water flows out and recedes from the street,” she says.

A large 13-tonne digger was necessary to safely clear the main outfall at Cave Rock in Sumner due to the sheer amount of water flowing off the Port Hills to the beach, so Mel called for more back-up.

While the Fire Service lit the beach, foreman Angus Jones was able to manoeuvre the larger digger into position and clear the outfall.

High pressure hoses on Citycare’s trucks and specialist sucker trucks were used to help with the flooding clean-up.

At the same time, two other Citycare teams of wastewater service people were clearing blocked grills and grates of autumn debris in different parts of the city affected by flooding.

Mel says her job involves a lot of weather watching and preparation and the team practices its response for such emergencies.

On the following day, the team checked in with the affected business owners and ensured the outfalls were open and flowing.

This was the first official flood in two years for Christchurch and the team’s efforts were praised and acknowledged by the client, the Christchurch City Council (CCC).

Congratulations to the team for their work.


Flooding digger 3

Flooding digger

Flooding church

Flooding Sumner