Significant Weather Event, Again! – Ladbrooks (Christchurch)

“On a Mish” #383 Significant Weather Event, Again! Ladbrooks (Christchurch). Selwyn District. Canterbury. 23.7.2023. One thing I really enjoyed about guiding in Fiordland was telling people some of the weather facts. Huge amounts of rain falling within a very short period of time made for a good tale to tell. Nowadays it would seem that the rest of the country heard about the rain and wanted to see what Fiordland rain would be like in populated areas…

A classic way to spark up a conversation is to talk about the weather. I have a good friend who lives in Winnipeg, Canada and normally one of our go to yarns is about the weather. Now this is not because we lack any subject matter for our chat. But it is because the weather has been so wild lately. Significant weather events seem to happen all of the time, and the results have been rather inconvenient. It would appear that the Fiordland style rain is best suited to the location it normally stayed in.

While many parts of Aotearoa were suffering from flooding during the 2022 winter, Christchurch stayed mostly dry. This would change in July thanks to a rather severe storm. Months worth of rain fell within a few hours and the drains in the area my Whanau live in quickly became overwhelmed by water. At times all we could do is just watch and marvel at Mother Nature’s wild side. At least this sort of thing only happens every now and then right?

Now July 2023, my Canadian-Kiwi brother and I had plenty of weather related chatting to do as Aotearoa had been hit by even more record breaking weather.

After July 2022 we had an idea of what heavy rain could do to the area and were weary of what multiple days of rain in a row could do. However, we didn’t realise how much water from above the storms of this day and age could produce in a very short amount of time.

Heavy rain warnings were given for Banks Peninsula and the Canterbury High Country just in time for the weekend. This meant no mountain missions and that normally means boring days stuck in the house, along with the rest of Christchurch.

It was during this particular weekend my Grandmother was staying with us, and when Nanny is in the house there is always something to chat about!

On Saturday evening the rain turned up the volume and within four hours a tickle in the drainage channels had become a river which was now running over the driveways of the houses in Ladbrooks. For some the only place for the water to go was towards their houses. My sister’s house fell into this category just like the year before. But unlike the year before, the speed that the water rose was as mind blowing as the facts I used to tell people about Fiordland.

By daylight the next day the damage was only just starting to happen.

The heavens were still unloading their bombardment of water and the stress levels were slowly lifting like the waterline on my sisters house. By mid morning their office (my brother-in laws place of work) was underwater.

Ernie, my Mother and I went for a walk in the rain to see if we could clear some drains and potentially lower the water levels. We spotted what we thought was a blocked drain pipe under one of our neighbours driveways. I carefully plunged my rake into the water above the drain and I instantly felt the pull of the water. The drain wasn’t blocked, there was just way too much water for the system to handle. As I pulled the rake out of the water for some reason Ernie decided to jump over my shoulder into the swirling brown water. At first I was surprised and laughed at his unexpected leap. But laughter turned to fear as I realised he was struggling to stay above the water and was being dragged towards the pipe. I nearly went into the water myself as I reached out and grabbed my poor little buddy, saving him from a watery end!

Unfortunately my Mother and I couldn’t do anything about the water, but fortunately we were returning with the same amount of team members as when we had left.

Eventually the rain eased and the clean up could begin.

In the end the rain had killed a car, flooded an office and garage. But most importantly it had nearly claimed the life of my little best bud!

During the next week my father had a meeting with Selwyn District Council and I made sure he mentioned Ernie’s near death experience. We are still waiting to see what the council will do, and while we wait we hope there won’t be a significant weather event, again!

That’s a lot of water!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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