19 Dec 2011

State of emergency to continue in Nelson-Tasman

9:25 pm on 19 December 2011

The state of emergency in flood-hit Nelson-Tasman will not be lifted on Tuesday and may continue through the Christmas period.

The region's Civil Defence group controller, Jim Frater, says it has be extended for another week as houses not safe to live in have been given a red sticker under the Civil Defence Act, and once the state of emergency is lifted those notices have no effect.

The transition to recovery mode is likely to happen later this week or early next week, he says.

Core samples taken from the Rocks Road slip in Nelson on Monday indicate that the ground is now stable. Mr Frater says no further evacuations will be needed in that area at this stage.

There are currently more than 30 houses on Grenville Terrace and Rocks Road which have been evacuated and about 100 in the region have been given a red sticker, meaning they can't be entered.

Officials warn it is too early to say how many homes in Nelson and Tasman may have to be abandoned, but losses for some could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More rain is forecast from Wednesday.

Water supply a priority

Work is expected to begin on Tuesday to reinforce the water pipeline supplying Nelson city that continues to be at risk after slips.

Officials had feared the town's supply could be compromised by the eight slips that had fallen around the the pipe.

However, Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio says that aerial and ground inspections over the weekend found the slips had caused only a few weak spots. Officials have a plan in place should further damage be identified.

"The contingencies are topping up our secondary dam ... which would be able to supply rationed water to the city."

Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence controller Jim Frater says people have also been asked to conserve water in Richmond where a pump has electrical problems.

Mr Frater says it is hoped the water supply in the Golden Bay settlement of Pohara will be reconnected within the next couple of days, though people will have to boil their water.

Meanwhile, about 100 people in Cable Bay were still cut off by slips blocking the main roads into the area.

Hundreds of claims

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has received 270 claims from people affected by the flooding in Nelson and Tasman and the figure is expected to double.

It has 21 staff on the ground throughout the affected areas, and over the weekend completed 30 assessments of damaged property.

The commission says it expects claims to reach about 500, with the total cost of repairs expected to be in the millions.

Prime Minister John Key has said that although the EQC fund has been depleted by the Canterbury earthquakes, it will still have enough funds to pay claims arising from the flooding.