Mother Nature has had quite a party in Wellington this year, inflicting drought, deluges, quakes, and - in case you missed it - wind.
Insurers, facing their most costly year in almost a decade, say premiums may rise and some areas may lose insurance if action is not taken.
After a summer drought that was the worst in nearly 70 years, in May, 107.6 millimetres of rain fell in Wellington in 24 hours, flooding homes and businesses, and sparking about 400 callouts to the city council.
Provisional national Insurance Council figures show the two big quakes, on July 21 and August 16, cost insurers $24.2 million, and the June storms cost $33m, while the May floods had a final cost of $2.9m.
Council chief executive Tim Grafton said 2013 was shaping up to cost insurers more than $100m in storm cover, making it the most costly since 2004, which was a year of big floods in the lower North Island.
"[Monday's] storm will not result in an increase in premiums but, if New Zealand doesn't adapt to changing climate conditions, there will be increased claims and higher losses leading to higher premiums or even cover being withdrawn in some areas," Mr Grafton said.
He urged greater "community resilience" and research around major weather events.
The Government recently announced spending of $201m over 10 years on research into resilience to natural hazards, a move applauded by the council.
Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office head Bruce Pepperell said "it would be fair to say we have had more than our share" of natural events this year.
The good news was that Wellingtonians were better prepared for natural disasters than anyone else in New Zealand, even though there was still room for improvement.
An estimated 600 people reported storm problems to the council and the Fire Service was flat-out with 314 callouts in Wellington alone. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the year's extremes were a reminder of the significant costs and consequences of severe weather.
Earlier this year, the city council spent about $2.5m repairing roads and seawalls around the south coast and harbour, and about $1m clearing fallen trees from storm damage.
"We need innovation, good technology and behaviour change to meet the challenges of climate change," she said.
STORM CUTS POWER TO THOUSANDS, SHUTS DOWN COLLEGE
Nearly 20,000 properties in Wairarapa, Manawatu, Whanganui and South Taranaki lost power as a result of Monday's storm, and some residents remained without power overnight.
All bar about 700 customers, mainly in Wairarapa, had been reconnected by last night, though Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said new faults had been found during repairs.
In Wellington about 1500 homes were affected on Monday, and about 160 remained without power overnight, spread throughout the region. Wellington Electricity expected them to be reconnected by this morning.
The storm ripped roofing iron off Newlands College's arts and languages block. The 960 pupils returned to school today after having the day off yesterday while running repairs were made.
Principal Grant Jones said Ministry of Education contractors had put tarpaulin over the roof and removed ceiling insulation while classroom resources and computers had been shifted to dry areas.
A loss adjustor had assessed the damage, although it was not known how long it would take to repair the two-storey building.
An investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's health and safety group has begun into the collapse of a three-storey scaffolding rig in Willis St.
Services on the Wairarapa rail line were replaced by buses yesterday morning because of a tree on the line.
THE BIG WET
Rainfall 24 hours from noon Monday:
Wellington Airport 30.4mm
Lower Hutt 39.0mm
The heaviest rainfall in Wellington city was between 8am and 9am yesterday.
The Rimutaka summit got 45mm and the Tararua Range about 100mm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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