Govts blamed for flooding

Wednesday April 11, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
A huge downpour of rain on Monday night resulted in a flash flooding in Avatiu and other low-lying areas. This house opposite Pandanus was one of the properties in the area which was affected by the flooding. 18041002 A huge downpour of rain on Monday night resulted in a flash flooding in Avatiu and other low-lying areas. This house opposite Pandanus was one of the properties in the area which was affected by the flooding. 18041002

Local businessman Sam Crocombe has blamed current and former governments for the flash flooding that affected a number of businesses at the Avatiu roundabout area on Monday night.

The owner of Raro Safari Tours said he had been asking the government for over a decade to replace the bridge which tends to get overflowed after a heavy rain.

A heavy downpour on Rarotonga resulted in the the Avatiu stream overflowing and breaking its banks, flooding nearby commercial and residential buildings.

Crocombe said the design of the bridge, which had been built decades ago, was flawed. The underside of the bridge at the inland end is too small, forcing water to overflow and flood nearby buildings after heavy bouts of rain.  

“The last time we had flooding like this was about 15 years ago. This is the third flooding I have experienced in this area since we started operating here,” Crocombe said.

“For the past 16 years, we have been asking the government to widen and lift the bridge which is the main cause of the flood.

“But every MP that gets elected always say they will do something about it and once they get into Parliament, they forget about it. It’s very disappointing.”

Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) manager project unit Gareth Clayton said Avatiu bridge was one of the bridges the ministry had identified for replacement.

However he said the budget for bridge replacement had not been approved yet, adding once it was appropriated, the project would go ahead.

Concerns were also raised about the poor drainage system on the island, which some affected residents believed was the main cause of the flooding.

An ICI spokesperson confirmed they had been called out to clear some blocked drains on Monday night.

“We had some drainage actions last (Monday) night, having to mobilise machinery around the island to clear drainage and overflowing streams (blocked).

“That was exciting and minister (Teariki) Heather was out and about in the rain working with our team,” the spokesperson said.

Emergency Management Cook Islands director Charles Carlson said there had been much more rain than normal which had caused streams to break their banks.

“Any kind of drainage will not cope with it,” he added.

Carlson said there would be huge damage to the island’s infrastructure, particularly the roads, adding ICI would be working on assessing damage caused by the flooding.

“Sometimes we think about cyclones only and forget there are other hazards like flooding that can do a lot of damage to properties, infrastructure and (cause) possible loss of lives,” he said.

“If you are living close to the river or in a low-lying area, you will always be at risk of getting flooded. Perhaps now is the time to assess your situation to prevent or mitigate against any future damages to properties and infrastructure.”

Titikaveka received a huge amount of rain on Monday night.

Staff at Little Polynesian Resort confirmed the resort had sustained damage from the flooding and had to evacuate a room overnight, moving the guests to Temanava Villas in Muri.

The resort also confirmed they would be shifting guests for up to the next eight weeks to other locations due to damage to the resort sustained in the deluge.

Resident manager Nan Enoka said the river had opened up and had come right through the resort. However, she said no-one was injured.

Cook Islands Meteorological Service director Arona Ngari said the service recorded a significant amount of rain up in the hills and on the southern part of the island on Monday night.

The Met Office in Nikao recorded a total of 63.8mm of rainfall from 8am on Monday to 8am yesterday, with a maximum of 41mm/hour at about 9.20pm on Monday.

Titikaveka reported a total of 228mm in the same period with a maximum rate of 109mm/hour at about the same time on Monday night.

Ngari said earlier the rainy spell was expected to continue until Friday despite yesterday’s sunny weather.

The average total rainfall for March on Rarotonga is 200mm.

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