Recovery workers are being stretched to their limit in Christchurch this afternoon as flood waters force dozens of evacuations, cause landslides and submerge more than 60 roads.
Heavy rain is still falling in the region and, while rivers are slowly subsiding with the outgoing tide, more than 6mm of rain is expected over the next six hours. Around 100mm has fallen in the past 24 hours.
The sustained flooding has now been categorised as a one-in-100-year event, prompting the Government to relaunch an emergency property repair service that was last used in the aftermath of the city's quakes.
The city's roads are expected to be swamped with traffic this evening as workers try to navigate the flooded streets on their way home. A number of bus services are also affected and commuters have been advised to check the Metroinfo website before using public transport.
Between 50 and 100 houses are affected by the flooding, most in the suburbs of St Albans, Avondale, New Brighton and Woolston.
"By five o'clock this morning we were anticipating a one-in-35-year event," Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said at a media conference today. "Now we are measuring a one-to-100-year event.
"For an earthquake-damaged city it is of major concern and there are obviously significant levels of damage throughout particular areas."
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Residents face days without power
In its latest update this afternoon, Canterbury lines company Orion says about 3500 homes are expected to be without power overnight.
Chief executive Rob Jamieson says many of those affected could be without electricity for days as linesmen battle with the treacherous conditions.
"Yesterday, the gale-force winds were the issue for our network," he says. "Today it's flooding, slips and the necessary road closures which are causing us problems.
"Quite simply, we cannot get to many parts of our network to repair those power lines that were damaged yesterday by falling trees.
"Coupled with rising flood waters affecting substations and kiosks, this storm is proving unique due to its ongoing and multiple impact nature."
The majority of affected customers are around Banks Peninsula, with most of the peninsula affected. Some pockets of Christchurch and surrounding areas are also affected.
The floodwaters have forced Orion to switch off the power supply to two kiosks today, putting extra pressure on the lines company. The continued flooding could lead to further shutdowns and new outages tomorrow.
Land slip at Lyttelton Port
Twenty households have been evacuated from two Lyttelton streets after a landslide in the township this afternoon.
A cliff face collapsed onto a Lyttelton Port storage tank at around 2pm, causing isolated damage.
The slip dislodged the tank's valve, causing aviation fuel to leak, but emergency workers have since contained the spill in a bund. No one was injured in the collapse.
Fire Service assistant area commander Greg Crawford says one other tank appears to have been dented in the slip, but there was no evidence its contents have been affected.
The strong smell of avgas would probably linger for about 24 hours, he said.
Police have cordoned Park Tce and Brittan Tce off as a precaution, evacuating residents to a local council service centre on London St.
They're unlikely to be able to return to their homes tonight while engineers from the Fire Service and CERA monitor the situation.
Christchurch City Council is advising locals who normally drive through the area to use Cressy Tce or Gebbies Pass.
Nearby, a few residents on Canterbury St have decided to evacuate after floodwaters damaged a retaining wall in the area. Part of the street has been closed.
Cordons are expected to remain in place overnight and police are advising non-essential visitors to avoid the area.
Call 0800 777 846 for help
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has reopened an emergency house repair service that was put in place during the quakes and is urging affected locals to get in touch.
The programme will work with construction partners to help those with flooding-related housing repairs, particularly where the weather has exacerbated existing earthquake-related issues.
"It's quite extraordinary, I've never seen flooding like it in my whole life, having lived in Christchurch for my whole life," he said today.
"I think Christchurch and Canterbury are well and truly over these 100-year events, but we do have to deal with the consequences of this particularly large flood."
Locals in need of assistance should call 0800 777 846 for help, Mr Brownlee says, or get in touch with local emergency services if they need urgent help.
Representatives from CERA have been out door-knocking in the city's red zones this morning, checking on residents and offering assistance.
Geotechnical teams are also doing an analysis on certain parts of the city's Port Hills.
Meanwhile the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) is urging affected locals to take photos of the damage to their homes if possible.
"We encourage homeowners to seek advice from their insurer if they are uncertain about what to do," chief executive Tim Grafton says.
"Homeowners also need to let their insurer know if they have damage issues that poses a risk to their health and safety as a result of weather damage."
Soggy carpets and saturated bedding should be removed from homes if the water subsides, ICNZ says, to avoid mould damage.
Motorists urged to stay at home
Traffic has been at a standstill in more congested parts of the city and road access through Banks Peninsula has been blocked off completely, isolating motorists either side.
"We do want to repeat the request that people remain at home if they don't need to go out," Ms Dalziel said this afternoon. "If we could perhaps make a plea to employers to think about staggering release from work so they can go home at different times.
Those who must travel should take extreme care and check for road closures, acting Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Glenn Nalder says.
"People should check with their places of work and other commitments and if they do not need to travel then please stay off the roads.
"If people are driving then extreme care is necessary."
Insp Nalder says drivers should slow down, increase following distances and be aware that "journeys will take a lot longer today in the current conditions".
List of affected roads at 4PM:
New Brighton Rd, Burwood–Queensbury
Owles Tce, Seaview−Union
Locksley Ave, Gayhurst−Glenarm been sent back to McBratneys
Banks Ave, Coopers−North Parade
Hills Rd, Warrington−Warden
Fitzgerald Ave, north bound, Kilmore−Cambridge
Avonside Dr, Wainoni−Torlesse
Richardson Tce, Ferry−Opawa
Clarendon Tce, Radley−Opawa
Aynsley Tce, Opawa−Centaurus
Fifield Tce, all
Riverlaw Tce, all
Eastern Tce, all
Waimea Tce, all
Aldwins Rd, Ferry−Linwood
Canterbury St, at Days Rd
Slater St, Shirley−Warden
Warrington St, Hills−Barbadoes
Aylsford St, Hills−Westminster
Flockton St, Warrington−Westminster
Carrick St, all
Speight St, all
Thornton St, all
Archer St, all
Squire St, all
Harrison St, all
Edward Ave, Geraldine−Barbadoes
Edgeware Rd, Hill−Barbadoes
Dyers Pass Rd, Summit−Governors Bay
Summit Rd, Hilltop−Pigeon Bay Rd
Pigeon Bay Rd, all
Ensors Rd, south bound, Ferry−Brougham
Maces Rd, at Ruru
Thames St at Innes
Waterloo Rd/Kissell St Intersection
Barrington St at the mall
Minaret Cres, at Crosby St
Marlin Place, at Minaret Cres
Stapletons Rd, Shirley–North Pde
Champion St, Edgeware–Bealey Ave
Belfast Rd, at railway line
Husseys Rd, at Willowbank
Main Rd, causeway down to one lane
Main Rd, at Cave Tce
Blenhiem Rd, one lane Annex east for 200m
Ashgrove Tce, opposite hospital