Ita leaves insurers bill for $46m

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014

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A cyclone that battered the West Coast over Easter has cost insurers $46 million.

Cyclone Ita passed down the West Coast on Good Friday, leaving behind a trail of fallen trees and roofless houses.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said most damage was to houses and contents, totalling more than $25m.

Damage to commercial property was close to $16 million, and motor vehicles $2.7 million. The costs were not broken down into regions.

The Easter storm was the most damaging of the year so far, Grafton said.

Households around Blaketown and Cobden lost roofs in the wild weather.

Donna Swallow's Blake St house lost its front door and porch.

The chimney flue was crushed when the front porch blew over the roof, so the couple had been without a fire and hot water until a week or two ago.

Swallow said she had been "at the end of my tether" until the flue was replaced.

The "insurance guys" had been around inspecting damage yesterday, she said.

Swallow estimated 10 residents in the Cobden area were still out of their homes, but had noticed some damaged roofs had been repaired.

Karamea Tomatoes director Tom Volckman said hundreds of thousands of dollars damage was done to his crops and structures, but prompt repairs allowed him to save some of his crops.

The glasshouse repairs were finished last week, and Volckman was hopeful temporary repairs to the plastic houses - done within a few weeks allowing to him to save much of the crop - would soon be replaced by permanent fixes.

It was a relief because he was able to sell tomatoes when they fetched a premium.

Volckman had to lay off his part-time staff temporarily, and the fulltime staff would have to reduce hours until the team was back in full production around May.

Because crops were usually planted in January, he had to weigh up whether to plant a short crop that would not net much money.

"It was a tough decision but hopefully it was the right one."

Although there was still work to be done around the town, Volckman said people had been getting on with things.

"If you come into Karamea, it's pretty much back to normal," he said.

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- The Press

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