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West Coast farms start recovery

West Coast farms start recovery

While the South Island’s West Coast bore the brunt of former Cyclone Ita’s wrath, the defining image is of past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Robert Borst, using his digger to rescue a motorist trapped by rising floodwaters.

“This is one of the worst storms I can recall,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president and the Federation’s adverse events spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is working with the West Coast Rural Support Trust and we’d like to ask the media to help us in spreading the Trust’s direct telephone number to affected farmers: 03 738 0038. I need to stress this applies to the West Coast only.

“Getting the Rural Support Trust’s number (03 738 0038) out there is particularly important to beef farmers or graziers who may be struggling.

“What made this storm one out if the box is that it covered the entire West Coast. Intense localised storms are a part of life here however former Cyclone Ita wasn’t.

“While we lost power for a while we know of farms who have sustained damage and being without power, it makes it hard to crack on with repairs. Not only this, but damage to rural homes, milking sheds and barns means we’re only coming to grips with the scale and cost.

“Federated Farmers helped to get generators to those who needed them. Ordinarily this isn’t a problem but given how widespread the damage was and with trees down, it has proved a challenge.

“While Ita was a cyclone we believe it spawned a number of small tornados. On our farm a shed was picked up into the wind and dumped right into the effluent pond.

“Can I make a big call out to Westland Milk Products who have worked incredibly hard to get milk collected and to touch base with suppliers. Westland has also helped to coordinate generators with suppliers further south and we are really appreciative.

“The workers of Electronet/Westpower have also done an amazing job, as have the councils in clearing roads and helping out affected urban residents. Adversity seems to bring out the best in us Coasters.

“My advice to farmers is that if they are in a bad way call for help. It is best to call a Federated Farmers West Coast Executive member direct or the West Coast Rural Support Trust’s direct number: 03 738 0038.

“Yet the defining image of this storm is of North Otago dairy farmer Robert Borst, heroically driving his 14 tonne digger into swollen waters to rescue motorist Rhoda Davidson.

“This is so typical of Robert who is a past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president. This is the same can-do attitude of the Farmy Army because he put Police Sergeant Peter Muldrew in his digger’s bucket as he forded water to Rhoda Davidson’s car.

“If someone deserves a bravery award it must be Robert Borst and Sergeant Muldrew. They put their lives on the line to aid another and isn’t that the Kiwi way,” Mrs Milne concluded.


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