Shocking footage from Sky News has captured the devastation caused after unprecedented flooding hit New Zealand’s south island. Authorities have been forced to declare a state of emergency after New Zealand suffered what has been described as a once-in-a-century downpour. Hundreds of people have been forced from their homes by rising water with as many as 300 residents evacuated from the worst-hit region of Canterbury.
The shocking footage taken by a helicopter shows homes, businesses, and roads submerged underwater.
The declaration of a state of emergency in Canterbury on Monday comes after similar announcements on Sunday in the nearby areas of Timaru, Selwyn, and Ashburton.
The mayor of Ashburton has informed residents that “half of Ashburton” may need to be evacuated if a local river breaches flood defenses.
Neil Brown posted on Facebook with a warning that the river was flowing at more than a hundred times its normal speed, 1400 cubic meters per second instead of a usual 10.
While Mr Brown told the New Zealand Herald there “still quite a bit of capacity” in the town’s levees.
He did warn: “We really need it to stop raining to let those rivers drop.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand Defence Force has been using helicopters to rescue people trapped by the flooding.
Rescue teams can be seen responding to the scene of a car which has been swept into trees by the force of the water.
Forecasters have also warned conditions could worse on Monday evening with further heavy rains expected.
The New Zealand government has promised NZ$100,000 ($72,500) for a Mayoral Relief Fund to support Canterbury residents affected by the flooding.
The acting minister for emergency management, Kris Faafoi said in a statement: “While it is still very early to know the full cost of the damage.
“We expect it to be significant and this initial contribution will help those communities to start to get back on their feet.”