Storm's damage brings $33m bill

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 12:59 11/09/2013

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The devastating April storm that saw flash floods damage homes and businesses in Nelson and Tasman has resulted in a $33 million insurance bill.

That is twice the cost of the December 2011 floods in the region.

The Insurance Council has put the final cost for this year's April storm damage at $33.7m, which is about evenly split between residential and business costs.

However, some residents are still not back in their homes.

Arbor Lea Ave in Richmond was hard hit in the flash flood, and resident Wendy Wells said only three of the nine families were back in their homes.

She and Richard Rotana hope to be back in theirs next month. "They're at the stage of putting in the kitchen and then we'll get the carpet and vinyl," she said.

She recalls the water rushing in and reaching 30cm up the walls of their home, and residents paddling in kayaks along the street as they tried to help one another.

They have had to move out and are staying in Waimea Village in accommodation paid for by their insurance cover. Ms Wells said they lost everything apart from crockery in cupboards, with the kitchen, bathroom, doors, insulation and the sodden walls having to be replaced.

She signed a petition calling for culvert work to be done to prevent a repeat of the flooding.

"I was watching the news this morning and thinking of the poor Christchurch people with trees down and power out and I did have an ‘oh God what if it happens again' moment."

Nelson City Council said today that it was working with the Tasman District Council to find solutions to flooding issues in the Champion Rd and Main Road Stoke area.

The council has commissioned civil engineering company Cameron Gibson Wells to come up with design options for stormwater flooding capacity work between Champion Rd and Main Road Stoke. "We are hoping to have these design options some time next month so we can plan next steps," a spokesperson said.

The Tasman District Council is sending out a newsletter today to residents in the Champion Rd area updating them on what work is being done and a report will go to a council engineering services meeting tomorrow.

The newsletter confirms that gravel and debris had blocked twin 900mm diameter stormwater culverts which caused flooding down Champion Rd and damage to private properties.

Work to date has included extending a stormwater pipe and roadside drains widened and deepened. Before any forecasted storm a contractor is to clear out culverts and a supply of sandbags is stored at the culverts.

Businesses in the Wakatu Industrial Estate were flooded.

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Viridian Glass sales manager Steve Scott said the damage had cost between $1.5m and $2m and it had taken the business at least three months to return to some normality.

The disruption had meant a loss of business and inconvenience to customers. While it was able to use company resources in Auckland and Christchurch it had meant delays for customers, Mr Scott said.

"I would not want to go through that again. It was horrific," said Mr Scott.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said some areas of New Zealand had proved to be

particularly susceptible to flooding and there was a risk that with climate change they would become more vulnerable in the future.

"Insurers encourage communities, businesses and local government to plan and adapt in ways that will reduce the impact of natural disasters. This in turn will help keep insurance affordable for all and ensure a rapid recovery after disaster hits," Mr Grafton said.

The cost of the June storm that also caused damage in Tasman, including the landslide in which Jude Hivon died near Marahau, is still being counted.

Nationally the provisional cost of insured damage has been put at more than $33m.

"New Zealand's generally high levels of insurance uptake make for a quick economic recovery at times like this with about 9500 claims valued at over $21m settled for home and contents damage and $9m for commercial claims," he said.

More than $1m of motor vehicle claims were also settled from the June storm that lashed the country.

Data was collected on a nationwide, not a regional, basis because of the nature of the storm.

- Nelson

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