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Previous Flood Victims Offer Advice & Reassurance

Previous Flood Victims Offer Advice And Reassurance

Dairy InSight is helping provide flood-affected farmers in the Lower North Island region with relevant and useful information on how they go about their recovery.

In the past two weeks, Dairy InSight has contacted dairy farming victims of some of New Zealand’s worst flooding disasters to document their stories on how they recovered from the flood.

Chief Executive Peter Bodeker says it is reassuring for the farmers recovering from flooding in the Lower North Island to know others have also experienced similar disasters, dealt with the situation and recovered.

Farmers spoken to include Taieri Plains dairy farmers Philip and Heather Wilson. The Wilsons, farming south of Dunedin, were hit by a flood lasting eight weeks on their property in 1980.

Twenty cows on Tim and Elizabeth Powdrell’s East Coast dairy farm were swept away when a cyclone dumped 800mm of rain on their property in 1997 and Kevin and Felicity Clark’s dairy farm at Waimana in the Eastern Bay of Plenty was flooded in 1998, leaving up to 1m of silt over 50% of the farm.

“These farmers highlighted some important messages in dealing with the aftermath of the floods they experienced,” Mr Bodeker says.

“Dairy InSight felt it would be useful for farmers in the Lower North Island to benefit from their experiences and the lessons they learnt to help in dealing with their own flood.” He says some of the strongest messages the farmers had were to look after the family unit, take a weekend’s break from the farm, concentrate on the season ahead and keep in close contact with the bank manager.

Philip Wilson says if he gave people any advice it would be to look after the family unit first.

“It is easy when the chips are down to think the only way to fix it is to work, work work. However, if they can get time out for themselves and their family, it is important.”

He says people should not panic and they should keep their options open, as it is likely those affected by the flood will need to winter their stock away and possibly address their stocking rate in the coming season.

Elizabeth Powdrell says gaining the support of the bank was a priority as once they had the bank’s support they could plan their recovery.

Mrs Powdrell says it is also important to feel a sense of accomplishment each day. “You need to go out there and feel each day that you have made a difference to what has happened.” Kevin Clark recommends farmers end this season, dry off their cows and concentrate on getting the farm 100% for the start of next season.

“The cows are going to struggle with the situation in front of them if they are still lactating. Any silt in their diets will upset their rumen, so they are probably going to shed some weight being dry let alone being milked.”

Mr Bodeker says the Wilsons, Clarks and Powdrells have also offered to talk with farmers affected to help them in dealing with the flood.

“What is so useful about the information they have provided is that they have been there and done that – they know what worked and what didn’t. That is invaluable information for the situation hundreds of Lower North Island dairy farmers currently find themselves in.”

The accounts of the Wilsons, Powdrells and Clarks can be found on www.dairyinsight.co.nz.

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