Rising water ruins rural Cromwell road

by Kim Bowden - Sep 22, 2023

Roading teams across the Central Otago District are assessing damage this morning and remain on standby for more after torrential rain yesterday caused waterways to flood.

Weather conditions may have eased, but rain continues to fall, settling as snow in some places.

In Lowburn, less than 10 kilometres from Cromwell, a rural road was closed overnight after a stream ripped up the chipseal at several spots after overflowing its creek bed.

A section of Lowburn's Swann Road this morning (Friday, September 22), where a creek has gouged out the road.

Council contractors are working on the road, which is expected to open to all traffic again by lunchtime.

Authorities are also keeping a close watch on nearby Pisa Moorings, where flood waters last night covered the road at the main culvert at the entrance to the subdivision off State Highway Six. 

Underground services have been exposed as water has undermined the road, and traffic management has allowed only essential and resident traffic to move through the area today after the road was shut overnight.

The council says the site "is dynamic" and "if the situation worsens a full closure will be reinstated".

State Highway Six between Pisa Moorings and Luggate is now open, after surface flooding closed stretches of it earlier today.

Many Cromwell residents are on clean-up duty, as Crux hears reports of downed trees and fences, and flying chook houses and trampolines, during the worst of the weather yesterday afternoon.

One rural Lowburn family used a digger to right their solid chook house, which had been blown over by strong wind gusts, only to discover one lucky clucking resident tucked up on an egg inside.

Further afield, the Clutha/Mata-Au River is running high at Alexandra, where Fulton Hogan has temporarily closed access to the river from the top of the flood bank.

Tonight's planned Mardi Gras opening to the town's popular Blossom Festival has been cancelled.

Festival chairwoman Sharleen Stirling-Lindsay says she is “gutted’’ to have to cancel today's planned festival events.

“The committee are absolutely devastated that we are having to do this, but people’s safely come first, Our thoughts are with our neighbouring communities who are currently under a State of Emergency due to the weather, and we just want people to be safe.’’

Organisers are continuing with plans for tomorrow's Contact Grand Parade and Saturday in the Park.

Meanwhile out towards Naseby and Oturehua snow has started to settled, and roading crews are ploughing and gritting.

The Central Otago District Council has closed Danseys Pass Road, from the gates past the hotel, due to snow and ice.

It is advising motorist to drive to conditions throughout the district.

Flood water have undermined the road at the entrance to the lakeside Pisa Moorings subdivision near Cromwell (Image: CODC).

The National Emergency Management Agency wants people top stay out of floodwater.

"Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles."

State Highway Six linking Central Otago to the West Coast remains closed near Makarora with Waka Kotahi's next update due on Monday.

Main image: The first culvert on Swann Road, in Lowburn, near Cromwell, floods the road, yesterday evening, Thursday, September 22.

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