Residents of a Canterbury settlement are holding their breath tonight as severe weather brings a storm surge down the Rakaia river.
Rakaia Huts, a small community at the north side of the river's mouth, is prone to flooding, and that has prompted the local council to take steps to alleviate fears that the seaside settlement could be eroded away.
MetService has forecast heavy rain in the headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers tonight, where peak intensities may reach 10-15mm/hr.
Last night, the Selwyn District Council ordered emergency work to be carried out in order to open the river mouth, as they anticipated a strong surge of rainwater this evening.
David Maharey from Environment Canterbury said that "we've got about 24 hours warning from the time the [rain falls] to the time it gets down to the river mouth."
The council intervention could not have come soon enough for Rakaia Huts residents who have often been left to clean up the aftermath of such a storm.
Rakaia Huts resident Hamish Paterson said that "when homes are threatened and other things are happening I think they do have to act and we are glad they have."
Similarly, fellow resident Clarke Wilkes said, "It's the first action we've had from the council, or anyone, for the last five years so it's quite pleasing to see somebody's taken it and run with it."
Just whether or not residents will once again have waves lapping at their decks will be known later tonight.
"Hopefully moving the river mouth further south will alleviate that to a certain extent - but we might find out tonight," Paterson.
If the work to open the river mouth is successful, Selwyn Council says they will investigate further riverscaping as the need arises.
The Rakaia river stretches 150 kilometres from the Southern Alps
to the Pacific Ocean.