Fuseworks Media

’40th anniversary of 1984 Southland floods an opportunity to look forward’

As a significant anniversary approaches – the importance of maintaining and investing in flood infrastructure in Murihiku Southland is more crucial than ever.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the 1984 Southland floods, which saw thousands of people evacuated from their homes under a state of emergency in Invercargill, Otautau and Tuatapere, thousands of stock lost, and almost 1000 buildings damaged.

As we acknowledge the anniversary, it’s timely to recall that this was the catalyst for the extensive flood protection construction and upgrades that have buffered us from more severe flood impacts for several decades.

With flooding an ever-present risk, Environment Southland is responsible for maintaining and improving flood protection schemes that protect people, property and livelihoods.

Environment Southland Chairman Nicol Horrell said the floods in September 2023 were another reminder of how important it was to maintain and invest in Murihiku Southland’s flood protection network.

“Environment Southland has been working on Government-co-funded climate resilience projects to upgrade some of the flood protection network, to help ensure towns in our region are more resilient to the challenges of a changing climate,” he said.

The Waihopai River (true left) stop bank was currently being upgraded to meet the increase in extreme sea levels in the Koreti New River Estuary, while the new Stead Street Pump Station also formed an integral part of Invercargill’s flood protection scheme to protect the area from inundation for the next 50 years.

Construction of a new stop bank along Ontario and Toronto Streets in Gore has been completed, and flood protection work in Wyndham and Mataura is nearing completion.

These projects, and others including the development of a 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, will build greater resiliency in the face of climate change for our communities and critical infrastructure, Nicol Horrell said.

Further investment is needed now and for the future because parts of our flood protection network are at least 30 years old, and more frequent and intense weather events are putting it under pressure. This investment is a priority for our Long-term Plan, which we’ll be consulting on soon.

See the Environment Southland website to stay up to date on the Long-term Plan, and to find out more about climate resilience projects, river flow information and our flood warning system. You can also sign up for the Antenno App, for high river watch and flood warning alerts to your mobile phone.

Flooding is one of the most common natural hazards in Southland and it is important to be prepared.

To minimise the impact of floods, Emergency Management Southland Simon Mapp group manager recommends people visit the cdsouthland.nz website.

“This website provides information on what to do before, during, and after a flood.”

Residents can also use Southland’s Natural Hazards Portal on the Environment Southland website to determine the flood risk level in their area.

By examining the flood zones and using the information from the website, people can learn what steps they need to take to evacuate their homes in case of a flood, he said.


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