'Business as usual' after Franz Josef flood

(Thomas Mead)
(Thomas Mead)

The state of emergency in the South Island's Franz Josef region has now been lifted, and its business as usual after the Waiho river burst its banks in Wednesday night's wild weather.

The precautionary warning to boil water has also been lifted, and local Civil Defence says Franz Josef's water reservoir is at acceptable levels.

Heavy rain caused the Waiho River to breach early on Thursday morning, flooding part of nearby properties, including the Heartland Mueller Hotel.

Acting Civil Defence Controller Chris Ingle says the town is now operating as normal.

"The river has stabilised and the flood levels from yesterday have abated," he says.

"It's business as usual, there's a bit of damage that needs to be looked at and investigated."

Civil Defence is urging tourists not to ditch plans to travel to Franz Josef this weekend.

Emergency Operations Centre controller Chris Raine says the town is up and running.

“Anyone planning on visiting Franz Josef should still do so as the town itself is unaffected,” he said. “If you’ve got accommodation booked, then just turn up.”

'Business as usual' after Franz Josef flood

Staff at the Heartland Mueller Hotel are praying flood waters dry up quickly.

Scenic Hotels manager Brendan Taylor is hoping drier weather will help the clean-up.

"Until we can actually stop the flow of water, which they doing with truckloads of rocks at the moment, we're not actually sure of how much damage we've got to the staff accommodation or to the hotel."

Westland Regional Council is hitting back at suggestions its inaction is to blame for the Waiho river breaching its banks.

There have been suggestions that more maintenance could have been done earlier to stop the flood happening.

But council chairman Andrew Robb says the affected properties had not opted in to the flood-protection scheme.

"We can't use the rest of the West Coast ratepayers' money to pour money into a hole when the people affected by it won't do it," he said.

The properties near where the river breached had no flood protection, but Mr Robb says the risk had been well communicated.

"We have extensive engineering work in terms of investigative work that goes on down there, and we provide a lot of information to the community on what happens with that river, and ultimately it's up to them."

Mr Robb says the cost of flood protection was likely a barrier.