Wild weather downs trees, floods roads
Updated 11:13AM Monday May 18, 2009

The South Island's main railway trunk line is likely to reopen this afternoon after being closed by flooding yesterday, KiwiRail says.

The line, along with a section of State Highway 1, was closed after the Rangitata River burst its banks near Temuka yesterday afternoon.

KiwiRail said a track inspection this morning revealed two wash-outs and staff had started repairs.

Five freight services had been delayed by the closure and it was hoped the line would be opened this afternoon.

A section of SH1, south of Ashburton, which was under a metre of water, was reopened late last night when the river level dropped.

However, police warned drivers to continue to show caution as there was still some surface flooding as well as high winds.

The town of Omarama was "on the edge" of a Civil Defence emergency yesterday, with water ankle-deep in the main street and up to a metre deep in other places.

Constable Paul Mander, of Kurow, said the town "just got by" without declaring an emergency, though 31 people were evacuated from the camping ground at 5.30am, along with three residents living near the river.

More here.