Losses run into millions of dollars for businesses

Last updated 13:00 23/04/2013
Viridian Glass
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

CLEARING UP: Viridian Glass staff Joel Collier, left, and Malcolm Borgfeldt clear mud and water from the Wakatu Industrial Estate business.

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The recovery cost to businesses will run into millions.

Viridian Glass, at the northern end of Wakatu Industrial Estate in Stoke which was deluged on Sunday, has up to $1 million worth of glass and several million dollars worth of equipment that has to be assessed.

Sales manager Steve Scott said today: "We have to make a call on how much of the glass can be used."

The firm employs 50 staff, and the priority at the plant is cleaning out the sludge, then assessing each piece of robotic equipment.

Calls were being diverted to the company's Auckland and Christchurch branches which would pick up the Nelson orders until it could resume work, he said.

He could not say when that would be or estimate the loss of business.

The Alliance meatworks at Stoke has lost production following the deluge that flooded its plant.

Production compliance manager Steve Baird said the cost of the cleanup, fixing plant and lost production would be significant.

There was no production at the plant yesterday and 200 workers were sent home, apart from those helping with the cleanup.

The flash flood took out 30-metres of security fence along Main Rd Stoke, sent a torrent of water and debris into the yard, lifted tarseal, flooded 18cm deep through the ground floor of the main building and 750cm deep in the boiler room. It was up to a metre deep outside along the northern side.

The plant had 2100 sheep and lost about 50 when the wall of water came through.

"We feel terrible about the sheep loss," said Mr Baird but he praised its shepherds who worked hard in the flash flood to move them through holding yards to the elevated yards. "I cannot speak highly enough of them."

There was no processing yesterday because of damage to the boiler and electrical motors. It was hoped to resume processing in the cutting room today but there would be no slaughter because of pump problems.

There had been a massive cleanup by willing workers, with 15cm of sludge around the carpark, Mr Baird said.

No product had been lost.

At Brad's Smash Repairs in the Wakatu Estate, owner Brad Kelling described the effects of the flood as a near "total loss", with machinery, plant, computers, files and customer's vehicles in his workshop in Wakatu Estate ruined through a combination of water, silt, mud and sewage.

He estimated the damage as between $200,000 and $300,000.

The workshop itself may also need to be repaired, he said. "We haven't found a single item of plant that's [undamaged]," he said.

But despite the extensive damage, he planned to re-open for business on Monday.

He had spoken to his insurance company and been given the go-ahead to begin repairing and replacing damaged material.

He understood that insurance assessors were flying in last night.

He was not liable for customers' cars, he said.

He had customers booked in for next week, and even if the business had to operate out of a temporary office elsewhere he would still be able to fit them in, he said.

"It's looking a fair sight more promising than it was at 6pm [Sunday] night."

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Getting in early had saved him a lot of time, he said. "You have got to, at the end of the day it's a tough old business out there, you can't afford interruptions.

"There's not enough money in the economy to sit back and take a holiday while [the insurers] do their thing."

But for those without insurance, the recovery will be more difficult.

QIC Clothing Alterations owner Donna Robertson said she had not yet insured her workshop, also in the Wakatu Estate, and so she would have to pick up the loss caused by 90 per cent of her equipment and product being damaged.

The water had flooded her workshop up to a metre deep, ruining her eight sewing machines, her patterns, and her fabric, she said.

She estimated the damage as costing anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000.

Every piece of fabric had been ruined, with the water bringing not just mud and silt, but oil from nearby truck yards.

She had not yet taken insurance against the workshop because the building was secure and there was no risk of fire, and she had not planned to use the building until next year.

"It's totally my own misfortune that I wasn't insured. You don't think a flood's coming through the door."

She now had to clean everything she could, salvage what was not covered in diesel, and start again.

She had two sewing machines at home which she could use until she could afford to replace the others.

"It's just put me miles behind again."

- The Nelson Mail

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