22 Jun 2015

Govt pledges funds to flood-hit regions

7:20 pm on 22 June 2015

The Government has pledged half a million dollars to help clean up the flood-hit lower North Island and is not ruling out more financial support if required.

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye and Whanganui Mayor Annette Main by the still very swollen Whanganui River.

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye and Whanganui Mayor Annette Main inspect the Whanganui River. Photo: RNZ / Carla Penman

A state of local emergency remained in force in Whanganui and Taranaki today but was lifted in Rangitikei last night.

This afternoon, Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye announced an initial contribution of $250,000 to help local authorities.

A disaster relief fund has been set up for Manawatu-Whanganui and one may be set up for South Taranaki.

In addition, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has pledged $250,000 for a scheme that will employ local beneficiaries to help with the clean-up operation.

Prime Minister John Key said the flooding was likely to have caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

He said Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was likely to announce an adverse weather event tomorrow during a visit to Rangitikei.

"That allows and triggers off yet another round of support for farmers in that area," he said.

"One of the areas of concern is that you've got people, not just in the urban environment but in the rural environment, that have been a bit isolated by those slips.

"There's quite a lot of damage. There's a lot of slips and, as I understand it, a fair bit of damage to the roads."

Civil Defence national controller Shane Bayley said earlier today that the extent of the damage in Whanganui would not be known until floodwaters receded.

He said it was the largest flood event the region had seen in recent memory.

"We just need to get a really good feel for what the level of impact is so the right kind of support goes to communities that need it."

In Whanganui, authorities said the clean-up would not begin until they had a coordinated approach. Two welfare centres remained open this evening, with hundreds estimated to have been left homeless by the weekend's flooding.

Road crews continue to clear roads, although a number of rural and urban roads remain closed.

Helicopters have been flying to remote areas dropping off food and medicines and collecting people.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Transport Agency said reopening the Manawatu Gorge remained its top priority.

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