1 Sep 2015

Flood damage bill hits $270 million

3:58 pm on 1 September 2015

The Government has announced a further $2.6 million to help flood-affected communities in the western lower North Island.

Farmers continue to feel the aftermath of severe flooding in the western lower North Island in June.

Farmers continue to feel the aftermath of severe flooding in the western lower North Island in June. Photo: SUPPLIED

In June, torrential flooding hit the Whanganui, Taranaki and Manawatu regions - and the estimated economic impact has now been put at $270 million.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye announced the extra funding this morning at the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council in Palmerston North.

The council had originally estimated the economic impact of the floods at $120 million.

Mr Guy said the new package of one-off initiatives recognised the severity of localised damage in parts of the three regions. He said it was an "unusual event" because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye said the extra funding would go towards fixing infrastructure, Enhanced Taskforce Green and funding a rural recovery co-ordinator.

More than $1.2 million is available to help farmers with repairing essential infrastructure, including expenses such as hiring diggers, replacing fences and rebuilding stock yards.

However, she said the exact criteria for receiving that help was yet to be finalised.

Ms Kaye said the biggest single cost would be repairing roads and infrastructure not covered by insurance, which could cost $90 million.

She said the Government would pick up 70 percent of this bill.

"The total cost of this flood, we're estimating at the moment, is about $270 million. That compares to 2004, where the estimates were at more than $350 million, so it's not quite as large, but where it has been very severe [are] certain pockets - and people have been badly affected," she said.

"That's why the Government has stepped up and provided this additional support."

Not just Whanganui

Taranaki rural support trustee Marcia Paurini said the extra funding was welcome but it must be spread across all the affected regions. The focus lately has been on Whanganui, she said.

"I am a little bit worried that it won't go to the areas of need. The first round of funding all went mainly to Whanganui and Manawatu, and there were a lot of farms inside Stratford, east of Stratford, up the Makahu, Strathmore area, on the coast in Urenui and Uruti ... that missed out on any Taskforce Green workers, for example.

"There were a lot of teams put into Whanganui, and so I'm hoping that the new funding in terms of Taskforce Green is spread more evenly."

She said many farmers did not have insurance where it was needed.

"It's too expensive to take insurance policies out to cover the bridges, and also the length of fencing. The insurance is mainly covering around the homes, silt underneath the houses is being cleared and that's being covered by insurance.

"Walls and floors in homes are being replaced. Dairy sheds are being looked after by insurance - but it's those boundary fences and accessways within the farm, and also bridge access and culverts that are all out of reach of most of these farmers in terms of premiums they'd have to pay."

Ms Paurini said struggling farmers were feeling the effects of continued rain.

Where the funding announced today will go:

  • $1.28 million for rural infrastructure repairs
  • $457,000 for a rural recovery coordinator and extra psychosocial support for farming communities
  • an additional $500,000 for Enhanced Taskforce Green to assist the clean-up
  • $400,000 to prepare for future emergencies.