Subdivision overflow floods Wānaka home

by Kim Bowden - Jul 01, 2024

A Wānaka couple do not know where to begin with clean up at their flood-damaged home on Aubrey Road.

Lou Harper and Helen Hanson used homemade sand bags in an attempt to keep floodwater out early on Monday morning - but to little effect.

Theirs is one of several properties on Aubrey Road, Wineberry Lane, and Mount Roy Terrace to be affected by flooding after a developer's water retention system overflowed with overnight rain.

Water streams from the Pembroke Heights subdivision above Aubrey Road on Monday, July 1, 2024 (Image: Supplied).

But while most residents are dealing with flood-damaged yards, Ms Harper and Ms Hanson found themselves standing in more than ankle-deep water in their lounge room.

Crux understands water flowed from the Pembroke Heights development site into the top of Wineberry Lane, and then followed a path downhill to Mount Roy Terrace and Aubrey Road.

A representative of Benchmark Construction, linked to the development, has been visiting residents today, and Crux has approached the company for comment.

While the Queenstown Lakes District Council has not named any company or property owner, it has confirmed the Aubrey Road area flooding "appears to be related to a failure of erosion and sediment controls on private property after heavy rain".

"The property owner, council contractors and emergency services have worked to prevent any further flooding and pump water from affected properties," a spokesperson says.

The council's monitoring and enforcement team is now investigating.

The water in Ms Harper and Ms Hanson's home reached several inches deep, covering skirting boards and soaking carpets and couches.

As the water has receded, it has left behind a fine layer of silt.

Electricity has been turned off at the property, as the floodwater reached wall sockets.

"I don't know where I am going to sleep tonight," Ms Harper says.

"What about the cats?"

Up the hill on Wineberry Lane, Sam Smoothy has a small pond in his front yard, although he is grateful floodwater did not breach his front door.

He called a mate with a digger early this morning, so he could divert water from around his home as needed.

A resident on Wineberry Lane called in a mate's digger as water flooded his property Monday morning (July 1, 2024).

Mr Smoothy says he has heard there were concerns earlier in the day a retention pond at Pembroke Heights was at risk of bursting, so those onsite allowed some sort of controlled release of water instead.

He says locals are aware of an overland flow path in the area, but today's movement of water around his home was unusual.

Ms Harper agrees. She says her property was hit by some flooding during September's heavy rains, but this time round the water that inundated her home was faster-flowing and dirtier.

Ms Hanson says, "I'm over it".

The pair are still dealing with the last of the clean-up from the previous flood.

They have lived in their home, which was built in the late 1990s, for 12 years, and have always known of the overland flow path.

Water being pumped from Mount Roy Terrace, off Aubrey Road in Wānaka, at approximately 2pm on Monday, July 1, 2024.

But they say the movement of water has changed since land around them has been developed, and their own backyard soak pit that used to handle heavy rains is now redundant as the water is coming from a different direction.

Firefighting crews were at their property, as well as on Mount Roy Terrace, early Monday morning to pump water away from homes.

One person from the scene says the water pooling in a dip in private Mount Roy Terrace, which runs off Aubrey Road, had been waist deep.

Ms Harper says she rung the Queenstown Lakes District Council as floodwaters were starting to enter her home, and she was told the council could not help them as it was a private matter.

A fast-moving, dirty river of water enters the Aubrey Road property of Lou Harper and Helen Henson, at approximately 8am on Monday, July 1, 2024 (Image: Supplied).

She says firefighters asked them to evacuate the property.

"The fire brigade said, 'We can't stop it'."

Ms Harper says she and Ms Henson have also been trying to sort out the longer-term issues that are making their home susceptible to flooding, but, a bit like with the latest clean up, they're struggling to know where to begin.

The aftermath as floodwaters recede at a home on Aubrey Road.

"We keep trying to get someone to help us, but no one wants to know.

"The council has washed their hands of it."


Main image: Lou Harper surveys the flood damage in her home on Aubrey Road.

Read more: Firefighters diverting floodwater from Wānaka homes


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