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Top of the South farmers resilient

Top of the South farmers resilient but hoping for light rain to aid clean-up

This week’s weather bomb, which devastated the top of the South Island, has seen the rural community rally. Despite the storm, some light rain would greatly aid the recovery of silt damaged pasture.

“Given we usually get between 2,000 and 3,000mm of rain over a year, my farm in Takaka has recorded an eye-popping 605mm this month alone,” says Graham Ball, Federated Farmers Golden Bay provincial president.

“Even then Takaka seems to have gotten off lightly as the Aorere valley is where my province’s worst damage is. This weather bomb caused the Aorere River to run some 11 metres above normal peak and that has caused major damage to farms.

“The one thing I’m really pleased to see is the rural spirit kicking in. Helpers were out on all farms I visited yesterday, even some from as far a field as Nelson. It makes you proud to live in this part of New Zealand.

“As a dozen or so homes were flooded practical things like food are being warmly received. People are also making food for our volunteers and running water out to them as its been very hot.

“The insurers have put in teams of cleaners who have done an amazing job cleaning and sanitising damaged homes. This is huge support for all affected homeowners. I’d like to also thank Tasman District Council and our local businesses who are really helping us out.

“On my farm near Takaka, the biggest thing I’ve got to tackle is a slip that will keep me occupied for a week. Thankfully I’ve got my own excavator to help dig my way out.

“The thing that will take longer to repair in Golden Bay is physical infrastructure as we’ve lost a major bridge and a swing bridge. There’s also a considerable amount of silt damage to pasture meaning the use supplementary feed. Stock won’t graze on silt damaged pasture.

“A large number of fences have also been damaged, but thankfully, stock losses appear lower than first thought.

“With the sun now out and electricity restored, it’s onto the clean up and rebuilding phase. I’m also pleased to say that Ian Blair, of the Top of the South Rural Support Trust, will be in the Aorere valley for the next few days from tomorrow.

“Ironically after the deluge we’ve had, light rain would be welcome. Rain will help dissipate the silt overlaying effected pasture because it’s starting to set,” Mr Ball concluded.

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