Marlborough race against time as more rain arrives

A couple woke up on Sunday morning to see that a massive landslide had swept away two tarpaulins in Pukenui Bay.

LUCY CLARK / SUPPLIED

A couple woke up on Sunday morning to see that a massive landslide had swept away two tarpaulins in Pukenui Bay.

Marlborough is racing against time to mend broken stop banks before another round of downpours hits next week.

An additional 13 millimeters of rain are expected to fall in Blenheim next Monday, following the weekend flood that wreaked havoc in parts of the South Island.

Marlborough District Council’s rivers engineer Geoff Dick said the council was trying to fix three stopping banks that ruptured over the weekend before more rains hit.

One of these “breaches” occurred in Tuamarina, near Bush Road, damaging five houses. Their owners had permission to access their property, but were not allowed to return.

RICKY WILSON / STUFF

Aerial footage shows a damaged slide on Queen Charlotte Drive following rugged weather in Marlborough.

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“We don’t know how much water has entered the houses… The embankments will be bomb proof when we’re done.”

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said the region’s civil defense team was aware that heavier rains could add more water to Marlborough’s “already soggy soil”.

More bad weather could affect Queen Charlotte Drive, which reopened for the first time in three days on Tuesday with traffic measures, so workers can continue to clean slips.

“Public safety is the only priority … Caution is in order. “

Leggett said the Civil Defense team was not yet sure how many homes were damaged by the savage weather.

Johnson's Barge Service drops off an excavator at Belvue Bay.

KIM WEATHERHEAD / SUPPLIED

Johnson’s Barge Service drops off an excavator at Belvue Bay.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin said the rain had triggered up to 100 slips in the Marlborough Sounds, ranging from the size of two trucks to 5,000 cubic meters.

A landslide in Kaiuma Bay, north of Havelock, contained about 40 pine trees that needed to be removed before the landslide could.

Another slide on Queen Charlotte Drive washed away homes in Pukenui Bay and trapped residents of Moenui Bay until noon Tuesday, when they were freed by repair crews.

Murrin said teams were unable to reach residents on the Havelock side of Queen Charlotte Drive because “much of the road had given up.” The drop would be assessed on Tuesday afternoon to see if it was fixable.

Johnson's Barge Service has rescued around 26 vehicles from the Marlborough Sounds since the Savage Weather left residents stranded.

KIM WEATHERHEAD / SUPPLIED

Johnson’s Barge Service has rescued around 26 vehicles from the Marlborough Sounds since the wild weather left residents stranded.

“I hope that we have enough width left to put a single lane in the short term. But at the end of the day we’re going to have to put a big retaining wall back in there, ”Murrin said.

Several other sections of Queen Charlotte Drive had collapsed. Other parts appeared to be driving but had “sunk completely” under the road which was dangerous.

“Queen Charlotte Drive and Kenepuru Rd suffered significant damage. This is probably the worst damage I have seen in the 30 years or so working on the roads.

The only bridge entering and exiting the Waihopai Valley had been washed away by a river, as were the “large sections” of the road.

Murrin said Marlborough Roads was considering replacing the bridge with a temporary equivalent or creating another track in the valley, so residents can regain access.

State Highway 63 was closed because a river had taken the seal and pavement from the road, which Marlborough Roads was working to repair. It was to reopen Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“Our priorities have been to open the highways first, then Queen Charlotte Drive which is a main road, then Kenepuru Rd, then work on the Awatere and Waihopai valleys.”

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor said a welfare team was responding to individual requests for food, medicine or help.

“At this point, we believe the Wairau River was similar in size to the 1983 flood, not larger.”

Agriculture Minister Damian O’Connor arrived in Marlborough to assess the damage at noon on Tuesday.

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