Canterbury farmer evacuated by flooding recalls 'horrific' memory of previous floods which killed 100 cows

A North Canterbury farmer who had to evacuate today says the intense deluge has brought back memories of floods which washed away nearly 100 of his cows 12 years ago.

More than 240 residents in Waimakariri district have been told to evacuate. They include 102 housesholds in the Ashley River area, eight near Kairaki Beach and 133 near Eyre River - including Peter Schouten's farm.

Schouten's farm is 800m from the river, and some of his properties share their boundary with the river.

He recorded 150mm of rain up until 7pm on Sunday evening, shortly before he received an alert telling him to evacuate. They were in the process of packing up and leaving, when the police knocked on the door. Schouten has headed to his parent's place "just around the corner".

While it was "scary" watching the river rise throughout the day, memories of the floods in 2009 meant he took no risks.

His contractors had helped prepare the farms throughout the week, moving stock to appropriate paddocks, he said.

"We didn't have a hell of a lot of moving to do because we knew the forecast was for a significant rainfall event, so we basically spent all week preparing for what has happened over the last couple of hours.

"Today we had to move one of the mobs that was in a paddock alongside the Eyre River as it was slowly getting submerged - we had assumed that risk, just not that it would happen so quickly, and a mob of cows that we thought was in a good paddock, but ended up with quite a lot of surface flooding so made the call to shift them as well," Schouten said.

"The rest was already in the right place. Both dairy farms are run by contract milkers and they had a good handle on where stock needed to be, but I did ask the farm with the bridge to keep the cows south of the river with 2009's events a possibility."

The event Schouten is referring to is flooding which washed away nearly 100 of his cows as they were crossing a bridge for their morning milking.

At the time, he described how the cows were walking towards him and just started dropping into the river - "the most horrific sight I have ever seen".

"That's still a scar that hasn't quite left us, so these events definitely bring a few memories back."