Five months after a botched flood warning left them fearful for their property values, many Hamilton residents will now have to wait another two months to find out if their homes will be labelled at-risk.
And one Hamilton City councillor is warning experts are relying on theory rather than getting out to visit the 28,000 properties which still hang in limbo.
The council has confirmed a target of mid-November for residents to learn the results of what will be, by then, seven months' tweaking since "floodgate" burst in April, swamping it with complaints over supposed flooding risk.
The exercise was an attempt to model the flood risk to every property in Hamilton, with the intention of adding that estimate to property files.
But a deliberately vague mass mailout instead drew a storm of ratepayer scorn, catching politicians unaware and prompting a council apology to people fearful of plummeting property values if LIM reports were tagged.
City planning manager Robert Hodges confirmed to the Waikato Times he still expected about 5000 properties would be deemed at risk, the same number he gave after the first mailout.
He did not know what proportion would fall into each risk category.
He said staff had been refining the flood risk model then re-running it to generate new outputs, along with checking results for "silly" anomalies.
"The risk is a function of the depth of water and the speed at which it is flowing; deeper water at a higher velocity constitutes a greater risk. The model generates a picture of where it flows."
He said no physical checks had been part of the process.
Cr Dave Macpherson said only properties "genuinely" at risk should be caught by the process, but he wasn't confident that would happen. "It's a one-size brush-over rather than looking at each property."
He would also be looking closely at whether account was taken of properties where flood risk was already identified, but mitigation works had since been carried out.
"I think the most important thing is that [staff] get it right. I'll be insisting it comes back to council before it goes out."
He was concerned the new district plan would become unnecessarily bogged down with objections from hundreds of ratepayers challenging their homes' flood risk assessments.
Meanwhile, residents who got letters advising them their properties could be tagged as being at risk of flooding are anxiously awaiting answers.
Long-time Awatere Ave resident Barry Coombes said there was no justification for adding potentially house-devaluing details to property LIM reports and he wanted the situation sorted.
"It's frustrating that this has been left in limbo for so long. That concerns me," he said.
"It's something that needed relatively urgent attention from the council."
Harcourts sales consultant Jill Taylor was worried about the impact the "shock tactic" letters might have on both a personal and business level.
She said if the council decided to proceed with adding the flood warnings to LIM reports it would have a negative impact on the industry.
Heath St resident Tony Ferrier-Kerr's neighbour received a flood-warning letter, but he did not, and at the time he had thought it was a mistake.
Mr Ferrier-Kerr, who is aged in his 90s, described the whole episode as "daft". "I've lived in Hamilton since 1970 and I've never had flooding."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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