Flood-affected property owners raise issues

ECan councillor Ian Mackenzie (with microphone) listens to concerns at a public meeting with landowners and officials on Greenstreet following May-flooding..

Greenstreet residents, caught between the north and south branches of the Ashburton River, are feeling exposed and vulnerable to another flooding event.

It was the sentiment raised by some attending a community meeting on Tuesday at Greenstreet/Ashburton Forks Hall on Ashburton Staveley Road.

It was one of three meetings organised by Ashburton District Council for flood-affected residents. Other meetings were at Winchmore and Mt Somers.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown addresses flood-affected residents from the Greenstreet area.

There were speakers from Environment Canterbury, Federated Farmers, and Ministry for Primary Industries, as well as Rangitata MP Jo Luxton and representatives from Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust , Waitaha Health, EQC and FMG who were on-hand to answer questions from those affected by the 1-in-100 year flood that saw a local state of emergency put in place.

Some residents in the area are facing months of homelessness due to irreparable flood-damage and others were unsure of financial responsibility on areas such as fencing and driveway damage.

There was concern over the perceived lowball $4 million offered by government but most wanted ECan to get on, repair stopbank protection and ensure the river was regularly cleared of sediment build-up so it did not happen again.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown said it was important for those affected to hear first-hand of the recovery response, which included numerous agencies led by recovery manager Toni Durham, of Ashburton District Council.

The meetings provided an overview of the flood recovery progress to affected residents and gave them a chance to ask questions directly to those in the organisations best to respond.

The meetings gave everyone the “same information, from the same source at the same time,” he said.

ECan rivers manager Leigh Griffiths

ECan rivers manager Leigh Griffiths said 546mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers and the 24 rain gauges across the region collectively caught highest rainfall ever recorded.

There was still a risk along the river, which would rise with rain, and there were areas along the river now more vulnerable than in the past, she said.

Just 20mm of rain could cause the river to rise in some spots.

Other areas it would take just 50mm to 100mm of rain. However flood controllers were on duty 24/7 and $2m had already been spent on temporary repairs to stopbanks, she said.

More permanent repairs would be done once the area had time to dry out although gravel bunds were being constantly repaired.

Those repairs were cold comfort to those living along the river and working through bureaucracy and insurance minefields to rebuild their homes and livelihoods, causing one resident to say to ECan representatives “don’t worry about the cost, get it done!”

Mr Brown said the volume of rain over 24 hours saw enough water to fill Lake Tekapo one and half times and provide power to every home in Ashburton for 18 months.

“It reinforced how significant this event has been. It will take time to recover.”

He encouraged those with productive lands in need of financial help to apply to the $4m government fund, which closes on July 30.