Surge of insurance claims after storm

Last updated 05:00 22/06/2013
Christchurch readers' snow photos: June 21, 2013
Elizabeth Hay Zoom
POM POM PICNIC: A table is covered in deep snow in Castle Hill.

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Insurance claims are climbing fast after record-breaking winds, rain and snow battered New Zealand.

The storm that rolled up the country on Thursday – blanketing much of the South Island in near-record levels of snow – smashed the lower North Island overnight and yesterday morning.

Tower Insurance received more than 150 claims from Wellington alone, after an Antarctic low ripped through on Thursday  night.

South Island claims were mainly due to flooding, roof leaks, wind damage and some snow damage around spouting and roofing.

Insurance companies will be putting on extra claims staff and assessors for the next few days.

Meanwhile, snow, sleet and heavy rain caused havoc across rural Canterbury yesterday, flooding farms and bringing down trees.

Tai Tapu farm owner Andrew Florance said two-thirds of his 120-hectare farm was under water by midday yesterday, thanks to heavy rain and an outdated drainage system.

"Depending on what happens now we will be wet until the end of August," he said.

His 180 cows were being mainly kept on 40 acres of hill country to keep them as dry as possible.

Only some of the feed they put on the ground was able to be eaten as it was either trampled by the animals, or sunk into the ground.

Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president Chris Allen also had a flooded farm.

Like other farmers he was feeding up to double what he usually would since the stock were burning a lot of energy to keep warm.

"You might have had a reasonable amount of feed but they are not getting enough in their stomachs because the ground is just so sodden."

Allen said all farmers could do was feed out as much as possible and move stock to more sheltered areas.

"The concern is how long will it go on for."

Meanwhile in North Canterbury heavy rain, snow and gale force winds battered the area.

Both the Lewis Pass and inland Kaikoura roads were closed for most of Friday with contractors battling up to two-metre high snow drifts in places.

"It's pretty extreme snow drifts up that way," Hurunui District Council emergency management officer Allan Grigg said.

Winds knocked over a few power lines and dozens of trees in the area overnight on Thursday including more than 30 trees at one junction.

Flooding was reported in Rotherham and Hawarden and power and phone networks in the Hanmer Springs, Mt Lyford and Rotherham area remained fragile after several outages yesterday.

Roads to West Coast reopen

 

Road access to the West Coast has been restored after the region was all but cut off from the rest of the South Island by the storm lashing the country.

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All three mountain passes across the Southern Alps to the West Coast were closed overnight on Thursday, trapping some motorists at the foot of the mountains.

The Lewis and Haast passes reopened yesterday morning, while snow kept Arthur's Pass closed until the afternoon.

Chains were essential on Porters Pass.

Mining contractor Richard Ellis, of Hokitika, headed to Springfield on Thursday afternoon hoping to sneak through before Porters Pass closed but was too late. He spent the night at Springfield Hotel and filled the hours with paperwork while waiting for the alpine pass to open to return home.

High winds in south Westland brought down trees across State Highway 6 between Hari Hari and Whataroa, keeping the road closed until about 9.30am yesterday.

New Zealand Transport Agency West Coast area manager Mark Pinner said roading contractors had been busy clearing trees from the highway since Thursday.

Electronet had also been fixing downed power lines in the area.

SH 6 from Westport to Nelson had remained open and had been the only way out of the West Coast until yesterday morning.

Early yesterday, New World Hokitika ran out of milk, with supplies due in the afternoon.

- The Press

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