FLOOD ALERT Who’s in the danger zone

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The worst-case scenario for a flooding Lake Wakatipu could affect about 35 businesses for at least a week, Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes says.

Geddes this afternoon reissued warnings to downtown Queenstown businesses within the danger zone to floodproof premises while there was still time.

Heavy rainfall of 70mm-150mm is expected in the next six hours, swelling rivers feeding into Lake Wakatipu.

Geddes says modeling shows rainfall of 70mm will see water levels rise to 311.47m. That would see public areas of Queenstown Bay and Novotel Lakeside hotel’s front gardens in flood.

Rainfall of 150mm will push the water level to a worst-case scenario of 312m, causing flooding of Rees Street from the Beach Street intersection to Church Street. 

“[At that point] there will be a threat to invidiual properties in that area,” Geddes says.

“Any person operating a business in that area needs to take action to flood-proof their premises while we have no flooding in the streets and daylight for work to be done.”

The increase in the water level is expected between midnight and 7am tomorrow and will also affect outlying townships Kingston and Glenorchy.

“People need to go to bed knowing they have done everything they can.”

QLDC was bringing 1000 extra sandbags from Dunedin to bolster stockpiles and sand already on standby at the Queenstown waterfront, Geddes says.

“Council will have done everything it can to make sure the foreshore is protected from wave action.”

Geddes says the only change to the worst-case scenario would be if the rain lasts longer or is heavier than forecast.

“That’s why people need to take action today.”

However, he reiterated this morning’s caution that it’s “business as usual” for the rest of the resort.

“This worst-case scenario will affect around about 35 businesses, hopefully only for a week or 10 days.

“The flood will be in the public environment for somewhere between three to five days. We intend, if at all possible, to keep the streets open to pedestrians but not cars.”

The latest water level shows Lake Wakatipu at 311.24. At it’s peak during Queenstown’s devastating Big Wet of 1999, it reached 312.77, a metre and a half higher. 

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