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Government acts quickly to aid flooded region

19 July 2004 Media Statement

Government acts quickly to aid flooded region

The Government has acted quickly to put in place immediate measures to assist Bay of Plenty areas hit by flooding over the weekend.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins announced the interim measures, pending a full assessment of the damage.

- Enhanced Task Force Green assistance to be activated in the area where necessary
- Opotiki and Whakatane District Councils to receive Government assistance to cover evacuation, accommodation and food costs for those forced from their homes
- The setting up of a 'one stop shop' of Government agency assistance in the area
- Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Defence, Fire Service and Police staff to continue to work with local authorities
- Additional Work and Income staff to be brought into the area from other regions
- A free phone Information HelpLine is set up on 0800 77 9997
- Opotiki and Whakatane District Councils to each receive an immediate grant of $20,000 towards their Mayoral Relief Funds to allow mayors to assist those affected with immediate grants.
- Cabinet had authorised the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ruth Dyson as Acting Social Development and Employment Minister, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton, and Mr Hawkins to give additional assistance where necessary.
- The Ministers of Finance, Social Development and Employment, and Agriculture have been given delegated authority to approve any welfare programme to provide rural assistance income support for farmers whose income is affected by the flooding.

The needs of farmers in the area would not be able to be accurately assessed until flood waters receded. These areas were mostly situated in the Rangitaiki Basin to the east of the lower Rangitaiki River. Mr Hawkins said the district's roading needs were still being assessed.

"Initial estimates are that approximately 2000h of farm land and 200h of orchards have been affected by the floods, although this is being assessed," Mr Hawkins said. Mr Hawkins visited the area yesterday and has joined the Prime Minister again there this afternoon.

The Civil Defence response in the area had gone well, and were meeting today with farming groups to discuss ongoing issues. Mr Hawkins said the ability of the local community to rally around in time of need had been particularly impressive.

ENDS

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