West Coast residents urged to get insurance

MYLES HUME
Last updated 15:57 04/08/2014
Blaketown
Sarah-Jane O'Connor/FAIRFAX NZ

DESTRUCTION: A small tornado ripped Blaketown on the South Island's West Coast, damaging roofs and uprooting trees.

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Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn is worried more uninsured residents will be "left out in the cold"  in the wake of the region's destructive weather.

Kokshoorn said the weekend's small tornado, which damaged at least 10 properties in the Greymouth suburb of Blaketown, served as a stark reminder of the risk residents took for not insuring their homes, as many dropped their cover because of climbing premiums following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Of the three properties that were severely damaged by the twister on Saturday, at least one uninhabitable household on Coakley St, where owner Marcia Pere lived with her family, is uninsured and the family is now contemplating its next move.

Kokshoorn said the occupants of the other two unlivable properties had been put up in accommodation by their insurance companies and repairs on their homes would begin soon.

"If you can get insurance, have it. It's a cost, but one worth having when something goes wrong," Kokshoorn said.

"You never know when you're going to need it. Mother Nature always has the last say on the West Coast; you have to respect the weather on this side of the hill."

He pointed to a series of weather events that have devastated the Coast in recent years including a tornado in 2010 that caused $10 million in damage, 150kmh winds that hit the region in 2010 and Cyclone Ita on April 17 that inflicted $46 million worth of damage.

Three days before Saturday's tornado, he said another small twister hit about four kilometres away which downed trees but avoided buildings.

After Cyclone Ita, Kokshoorn accessed the Mayoral Relief Fund to help with the living costs of six households, and he expected to do the same for the displaced family this week.

He said the family was being supported by local organisations, including the Salvation Army.

"They are really between a rock and a hard place at the moment. They have no money to get their roof on and wiring work done to make it safe. They can only stay with friends for so long, so they are are all at the mercy of the public to help."

Kokshoorn believed fewer West coast residents were insuring their homes as premium costs increased following the Canterbury earthquakes.

"I'm in no doubt about that, at the end of the day people will take out insurance based on how much it costs."

Kokshoorn said the uninsured home had been covered with a tarpaulin, while the other two properties had also been made watertight, but he expected the insured properties to undergo extensive remedial work during the next few weeks before they were made livable again.

He said the other seven to eight properties sustained minor damage, including damage to roof spouting and garages.

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- The Press

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