When the flood threat peaked last Thursday, community spirit went into overdrive.
Fulton Hogan diverted a loader and several labourers from the Church Street upgrade to help with sandbagging from midday.
“When we saw what was happening along the lakefront and that business owners were getting agitated, we just jumped in to help out and had the loader handy,” Fulton Hogan boss Adam Lind says. “Right place, right time.”
The loader had a hard time keeping pace with a 30-strong group of Queenstown Resort College students filling sandbags in pouring rain. “They did a brilliant job – too quick for us,” Lind says.
The students also impressed Good Bars Queenstown’s Chris Skyner, who says 20 of them helped him sandbag lakefront restaurant Botswana Butchery.
Botswana put on refreshments and food throughout and Skyner organised a Harry’s Pool Bar shout when the job was done.
Lakeside fish and chippy Aggy’s Shack also knocked up free greasies for workers.
Later at night, a Salvation Army caravan laden with hot coffee, jelly beans and other sugar fixes did the rounds.
“It was all a bit of community love. The community came together,” Skyner says.
QRC boss Charlie Phillips says sandbagging for five hours will help students meet a course requirement to do 10 hours community service per term. “We just found anyone who was in a corridor and they all ran down there and did it.”
Steve Rout Contracting took about a dozen men off other jobs to pitch in, placing large concrete blocks and pipes round Earnslaw Park and Marine Parade to counter wave action.
The Rout crew also delivered sand for sandbags and covering manhole lids.
“Most of the [materials] will be at cost, we want to help out as much as possible,” boss Stacey Rout says.
Novotel Lakeside hotel boss Jim Moore, among the worst affected, says other hotels Crowne Plaza, The Rees, Millennium, Copthorne, Kingsgate, Mercure and Sofitel loaned staff to help move beds, furniture and appliances
from 50 ground-level rooms to the store across the street formerly occupied by Destination Organic.
Winter Festival director Simon Green, coordinating sandbagging, says having so many hands on deck “made it one of those great Queenstown days”.
“No one was rattled but all indications were the lake would flood. We’re just
lucky it didn’t.