Floods put further pressure on already scarce housing

01:24, Apr 24 2013

Families are staying in motels and relatives' houses as people forced to leave their homes by Sunday's floods enter an already tight Nelson housing market.

Meanwhile, Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says the hardwood floor at Saxton Stadium will most likely need to be replaced.

Nelson MP Nick Smith yesterday briefed the Cabinet on the scale of the damage caused by the flash floods. He said many government ministers were surprised at the extent of the damage.

He was now "buried in work" assisting constituents who had been adversely affected by the floods, helping them obtain food grants and get into short-term accommodation.

Some were staying in motels or with friends or family while they waited for more permanent solutions, he said.

"That works for days but it doesn't work for weeks."


Some who lacked insurance had come out with not much more than the clothes on their backs, Dr Smith said.

The rental housing market was tight, as there was a large number of seasonal workers in the region, he said.

Several Housing New Zealand properties had been damaged and would need to be repaired.

Dr Smith said he was working at getting families temporary accommodation and support from agencies like Work and Income, and donations from philanthropic sources.

A very small number of businesses had laid off staff because the floods had affected production, and this would have flow-on effects on their families, he said.

Assistance from the Government was available if the damage bill went above a certain threshold, but it was too early to say whether that would apply.

"The greatest damage has gone to private property."

Mr Miccio said he had visited homes and businesses affected by the floods, and there was no doubt that the damage was more widespread than that caused by the December 2011 floods.

However, council infrastructure had not been as badly affected as in 2011, with the notable exception being Saxton Field.

His "educated guess" was that the $500,000 floor at Saxton Stadium would need to be replaced due to water damage.

Insurers had yet to make a final assessment, but it was already clear that the stadium was unusable, he said.

"It only takes one look to know the floor is gone. It's bowing; it can't be salvaged."

Sports House would also have a significant repair bill due to roof and ceiling damage, while the outdoor netball courts needed to be waterblasted to clear them of silt and mud.

Both councils' stormwater infrastructure has been criticised, but Mr Miccio said it would not be feasible to design for such extreme flood events.

"There are definitely learnings from the flood but 90 per cent of what happened the other night, you would never build infrastructure to deal with that."

Building larger culverts in one spot would only move the flooding to another spot, forcing the council to build larger culverts everywhere, Mr Miccio said.

There were also questions around how much of the debris from the flood was slash from forestry, he said.

Covent Dr resident Donald Millard said neither the mayor nor any councillors had visited the affected properties on his street since the floods.

He felt they had a responsibility to visit all those affected by the floods, and said this would be particularly wise in an election year.

The council had also refused a request for a skip to be left on the street for residents to fill with mud and debris.

Mr Miccio said that while it was virtually impossible for him to visit every affected property, if people wanted him to do so, he was more than happy to.

He would be out visiting properties and businesses again on Friday.

People should focus on looking after themselves and their properties while he and the council focused on the broader picture, he said.

Flood update:

The Welfare Centre in Richmond closed yesterday, but Civil Defence Emergency Management staff are still available at the Tasman District Council office in Richmond to help those who feel unable to cope on their own.

Residents can also contact their respective council for welfare assistance if they are in urgent need. For damage to private property, people should contact their insurance company in the first instance.

Residents who need to dispose of damaged materials and rubbish should check with their insurers first, as this should be part of any insurance claim. If you are renting, contact your landlord and consult your contents insurance policy. Take photographs and keep all receipts. If you don't have insurance, contact the Ministry of Social Development and make an appointment to see someone in Stoke or Nelson (the Richmond office has been damaged).

The Nelson Mail