Misery left in flood's wake

CHELSEA ARMITAGE
Last updated 12:58 01/07/2014
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MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
SODDEN RUINS: Tim Vincent of JAE Services throws contaminated furniture into a skip after floodwaters swamped a Murphy St house during last week’s storm in Nelson.

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Workers have been brought in from around the country to help clean up flood-damaged properties in Nelson.

The Victory area was badly hit by last week's floods, forcing people out of their homes and leaving many personal items too contaminated and damaged to salvage.

Tim Vincent, of JAE Services, was removing contents from one of the worst-hit homes in Murphy St yesterday, but not before taking a picture of each item to send to insurance companies.

He said the team, comprising workers from Invercargill, Blenheim, Nelson, the West Coast and Christchurch, had visited nearly 100 homes to carry out flood restoration services, all with varying degrees of damage.

"Some people have decided to stay in their homes, some have moved in with relatives or to other rentals," he said.

The team is removing contents, ripping up carpet, removing gib board, fixtures and cupboards and then sanitising the entire premises of damaged homes.

Water hasn't been the only problem, with sewage and sludge being a huge concern for affected houses, said Vincent.

Gideon Climo, of Absolute Energy, has been in Murphy St over the past week, ripping out insulation from contaminated homes.

"It's like caving, but not quite the same. There's quite a bit of poos and wees amongst it," he said.

Some of the sheets of foil and foam insulation weighed around 20 kilograms due to the sewage and silt they held, he said.

"We can't really eat lunch. It's too dangerous with the contamination, so we just sit there and pretend like we're having a lunch break," he said.

Climo spoke of pets being washed down the street and finding a family's cat floating dead in water underneath their house.

He estimates it will be "at least a year" before the worst houses are fully dried out.

"It isn't going to start drying until summer, and some places were foot-deep in water and sludge," he said.

Next door, Mick Warren's tetraplegic son Che, who Warren rescued from his self-contained unit during the flood, is now staying in a motel. His expensive electric wheelchair was ruined by the water, so Warren dug out an old manual one he found in the garage.

"There's no need to get upset about it. There's nothing I can do about it, what's done is done," said Warren.

Che Warren won't be able to return to his badly damaged unit for at least another eight weeks.

A number of Victory businesses are still closed, including the Victory Square Cafe which is being assessed for damage.

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Victory Square Kindergarten was closed last week but will partially open again today, with room to accommodate half its pupils over the next three days.

The Insurance Council expects it will be six weeks until the cost of claims from the damage is known.

An Insurance Council spokesperson said that AMI, State and NZI together have received about 90 claims from customers in the Nelson-Marlborough areas to date.

AMI Tasman branch manager Graeme Duncan said "The majority of those claims were related to muddy waters entering the lowest point of our customers' houses.

"Our loss adjusters continue to work with a number of partners including cleaning firms and carpet providers to respond to the claims" Duncan said.

- Nelson

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