Westpac choppers show their value in flood-hit Canterbury

Westpac Rescue Helicopters Helicopters have been increasingly active as floods are ravaging the Canterbury region.

Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew member Corey Milnes says eight co-workers are working 12 hours across two choppers.

The crew has been traveling 13 times since the floodwaters began to hit Saturday.

“We are now responding to a number of remote areas because the Ashburton separation bridge has been closed due to flooding.

“We have been responding to farmers, hospital evacuations, closed vehicles, car accidents and people trapped by floodwaters,” he said.

On Monday, an alpaca rescue operation was completed in six people rescued by Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Farmer Ian Chamberlain of Okuku, west of Rangiora, spotted a SOS phone on Facebook to help save alpaca 34 from a nearby farm that was closed across the river.

“Six of us crossed over and collected the alpacas and started bringing them across the river, but it was hit by a hurricane,” he told Magic Talk Radio.

We had also taken the alpacas upstream, but we were closed.

“We received a signal that Westpac Rescue Chopper was coming and hiding in the grassy area.

Within 10 or 15 minutes the intruder came to our rescue. The Westpac Rescue helicopter did an amazing job, and we heard this morning via Facebook that alpaca was rescued later, “he said.

Alpacas were towed to safety by a private helicopter during the day.

Canterbury Air Rescue Trust CEO Christine Prince said times like this are what you really appreciate about Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

“With Ashburton and the southern states cut off … it is the only way for those who are suffering from flooding and for any medical emergency or accident.

“It’s a way to get to this area.”

Prince said it was strange that the floodwaters would fall as Westpac Chopper’s appeal approached.

“The project has been well-known where New Zealanders have dug deep to help, but an event like this truly demonstrates the importance of the project.

By Tuesday the rain had subsided, but rescue was still ongoing as the floodwaters receded.

The Westpac Chopper Appeal supports all rescue helicopters in New Zealand, so that they can continue their lifesaving mission to save Kiwis across the country. If you would like to support Westpac Canterbury Rescue Helicopter, or any other rescue aircraft please donate to www.chopperappeal.co.nz/donate

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