New Zealand floods: thousands flee, first ever red warning issued

New Zealand floods: thousands flee, first ever red warning issued
Photo: YouTube | Guardian News

Days of torrential rains left an area in New Zealand’s South Island submerged in flood. The region has been cut off as roads were washed away forcing 2,000 people to evacuate. State-owned MetService issued the first-ever red weather warning in the country due to the natural calamity.

Rain flooded Southland’s agricultural plains located in South Island’s southernmost end. This came a day after travelers were evacuated from Fiordland, another region on the island that saw over a meter of rainfall in fewer than three days. The region is where World Heritage Site Fiordland National Park is located.

Lewis Ferris of the country’s MetService says the rainstorms brought about its first-ever red warning, a new weather alert that the enterprise developed last year.

“The difference between the orange and red warnings is the impact on people,” he explained to the news outlet, The Guardian. “We saw a road washed out, we saw people isolated. There was a real risk to communities given the impact on the roading network.”

Desperate farmers have resorted to using jet skis or kayaks to herd their livestock to higher grounds in Southland. Local civil defense official Neville Cook reports that “There will be stock losses. Even with prior warning, there’s really nowhere they can go.”

In the South Island town of Mataura, concerns have been raised over the possibility of an ammonia leak as floodwaters inch closer to a local paper mill. It houses a chemical called ouvea premix which, if it comes in contact with floodwater, could release toxic ammonia gas according to officials.

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