Flood response phase changes

Flooding along Ashburton Staveley Road saw many properties affected when the Ashburton River north and south branches burst. Photo NZDF

Flood recovery works are ongoing in Mid Canterbury as farmers and landowners deal with the impact of district-wide flooding three months ago.

While the swag of volunteers and organisations involved in the initial clean up has wound down, for many farmers and landowners and there is still work to be done and still a number of people and organisations on hand to help those in need.

The floods, which hit the district at the end of May, saw extensive damage with major infrastructure damaged including bridges, irrigation ponds and fences.

Many residents along Ashburton Staveley Road were evacuated by staff from the New Zealand Defence Force. Photo NZDF

Houses were damaged and many had land inundated with shingle from redirected waters which needed diggers and dozers to remove it and some of the damage in the hill country could take years to fix or heal.

Ashburton District Council strategy and compliance group manager Jane Donaldson said the council had officially shifted out of the Civil Defence recovery phase and into recovery as a part of business-as-usual activity.

“This does not mean that we are recovered as a district, and for many of our farmers we know that there is still a long road ahead for recovery.

“However, the relevant agencies are now undertaking their recovery support work as a part of their business-as-usual functions (such as the Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust),” she said.

Council’s role was now to have oversight of flood recovery and to continue to advocate on behalf of the community. There was also $86,000 distributed through the Mayoral Relief Fund to flood-affected farmers and community organisations.

“From here, the repair of the damaged flood network sits with Environment Canterbury and there are likely to be a number of community conversations to be had in the coming months.

“We expect to hold community meetings soon to discuss the next steps with our community.

Angela Cushnie

Angela Cushnie, who stepped into the fixed-term Farmy Army flood recovery response coordinator role, said it had been a ‘‘very hectic three months’’.

Her time in the role had now wound up, but Mrs Cushnie was mindful of the ongoing recovery work being done by farmers in the area.

‘‘Obviously your recovery journey will be ongoing, and we want you to continue to be supported. We still have several offers of assistance or opportunities to engage available,’’ she said.

Among them offers and donations of on-farm equipment and services such as coils of high tensile wire and soil remediation, seed and chemical support from Catalyst Performance Agronomy.

Also events for those affected – temporarily delayed due to covid – were still planned which included information and social gatherings as well as achance to thank those involved in the recovery process.

Feed planning services were still available from DairyNZ or Beef +LambNZ (phone 0800 327 646), as well as Feed Co-ordination Services matching willing buyers with willing sellers (phone 0800 327 646) and Repost (affordable recycled posts) at a reduced price, clear of staples and with point ready to go (contact Greg on 027 251 1124).

‘‘Please also note that the free GP visits, available to flood affected residents, have been extended until early next year,’’ she said.