JUNE 2015 FLOOD – TWO YEARS ON

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When South Dunedin was hit by flooding two years ago to the day on Saturday, of the community that meant the most to one resident.

St Kilda resident Julie Myers said 10cm of water flooded into the back rooms of her and husband Jim’s Corunna St house on June 3, 2015, prompting a midnight knock on the door from surf life-savers bringing sandbags.

“[We] really appreciated it.”

She also appreciated the support later on from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, who organised extra skips for residents forced to discard house-lots of damaged possessions.

Her clean-up was supported by Taskforce Green volunteers who helped put flood-damaged items into the skip.

Their insurance claim took six months, but the Myers’ house is still not fully repaired the insurance payout was less than needed to fully rebuild the back of the house.

Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said in a statement the floods had caused “damage, disruption and upheaval for many local residents and businesses”, especially in the south of the city.

The council’s response to the flooding had been widely criticised in the aftermath of the event, but Ms Bidrose said the council had addressed infrastructure issues that contributed to the floods.

Measures included installing a new filter screen to replace the one which blocked at the Portobello Rd pumping station, inspecting the 1500 mud tanks in South Dunedin.

Ms Bidrose said council contractors regularly swept streets around the city, but could not be “everywhere at once”, so she encouraged residents to clear grates near their homes, especially in autumn.

Ms Curran said the council and Civil Defence had since had a chance to work on their flood response.

The DCC’s response to potential flooding last Easter was “very proactive”, she said.

“[It was] almost completely opposite to what happened [in 2015].”

Ms Bidrose said the council’s response, which included knocking on doors and giving out sandbags, had demonstrated the council was “ready to respond”.

Ms Curran said while some residents were still dealing with the effects of the “shocking event”, many were concerned about the future of the area.

There were many figures about climate change predictions for the area. Those in the know needed to get together to discuss South Dunedin’s future and the community also needed to be involved, she said.

“[The] community feels things are happening to it, rather than having any control [over decisions],” Ms Curran said.

Ms Bidrose agreed, saying the council’s collaboration with the Otago Regional Council to gather data on potential sea level rise and monitor environmental changes was necessary to understand what action might be needed.

She said the city council had introduced new minimum floor levels for mainly residential buildings, including new homes, across low-lying parts of the city, including South Dunedin.

In most areas, the levels would be higher than current specifications and would give a greater level of protection for new residential buildings in heavy rain.

This new level meets the national recommendation that houses have floors 500mm above a one-in-50 year flood height.