19 Apr 2017

Govt fund 'unlikely' to cover Edgecumbe businesses' losses

8:23 am on 19 April 2017

An Edgecumbe business owner who has lost up to $100,000 worth of supplies is hopeful she will be eligible for government support.

Up to 30 skips are being filled and emptied twice a day with up to 30 truckloads being taken to Tauranga each night.

Skips are being filled and emptied twice a day with up to 30 truckloads taken to Tauranga each night. Photo: RNZ

The government yesterday announced a $700,000 fund for about 100 businesses affected by floods in Edgecumbe and the wider Bay of Plenty, with $250,000 available through a disaster relief fund and the rest for the rural community.

Businesses in the region welcomed the package, but said it was unlikely to cover all of their losses.

Bead Cottage owner Robyn Stokes said she has had her home-based business selling jewellery and craft supplies for 10 years and the damage by the floodwaters had been extensive.

"The floods have brought in silt. My office, my studio, is growing mould everywhere from floor to ceiling. It's basically contaminated and destroyed all of my stock and all of my own personal hobby craft work that I do."

Ms Stokes said she had lost easily $100,000 worth of stock and was not insured.

"It's not something I can replace tomorrow," she said.

"It could be six to12 months before I'm anywhere near starting to sell items again and building the business up again. So I don't think there'll be much help coming our way for us little people, but we're hopeful."

Golden Grain supplies stock feed to the Bay of Plenty and also exports maize to the Pacific.

Owner Gary Bryson said his business had also suffered a significant blow, but he would not know the extent of the cost until it was assessed today.

The government fund would definitely be useful, but the pool of money would not be enough to recover the losses by local businesses, he said, with some businesses facing damage to machines costing between $70,000 and $80,000.

"In our manufacturing side, switchboards and electronics are quite badly damaged and we've had a forklift go under. The water came up to the seat of it and it was three days under water."

"We manufacture stock feed for all animals. We went under water around about 1-1.5m and in some places up to 2m deep. Raw materials and product that we'd made and manufactured ready to go out to ostriches and things like that, all went under water."

Mr Bryson said he hoped to get a smaller operation up and running within the next week.

"We lost our bags, we lost all our packaging material. We've got to start from day one again."

Loss of customers makes it 'very hard to survive'

Whakatāne District mayor Tony Bonne said the details on the support package still needed to be worked through.

He said he would be keeping in close contact with central government to update them on the issues local businesses were facing.

"Originally it was just access, getting the business up and running again. Secondly, there will be temporary housing. If people have to move out for a period, you're taking away some of their customer base," he said.

"Most businesses are now back up and running. It's a bit like Kaikōura, you know, they get up and running but if you've only got about a quarter of your customer base it makes it very hard to survive."

Eastern Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Gerard Casey said he would wait until there was more information about the fund and how it would be allocated until he could comment.

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