Tuesday, 27 January 2009

25th Anniversary of Flood

No one in this town needs me to tell them that January 27th marks the 25th anniversary of Otautau's last major flood. But there are so many new people moving into our area that it's possible this bit of history has escaped them. The Southland Times covered the story in an article called 'A town devastated'.

Otautau has a long history of flooding thanks to the town's proximity to the Otautau Stream. But unlike New Orleans, USA, for example, where the engineer, Bienville, made the wrong decision on where to put the settlement - in a bowl below sea level - our settlement, Hodgkinson, was originally supposed be away from the lowland of the stream, on high ground above the Aparima River. We can't blame any engineers - it was just a preference of those early residents to stay put right next to the stream.

Some of the floods of the last century have been captured in photographs and are on display at the Otautau Museum. These include floods from 1913, 1935, 1948 and of course 1984.

What is missing though are some first-hand accounts of what those floods were like. Some people think their own stories of 'how it used to be' are inconsequential but nothing could be further from the truth. If you would like to have your stories recorded for posterity, the Museum may be able to help. They have the technology, all they need are volunteers. Contact me if you'd like to be interviewed on flooding or any other aspect of our district's history.

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