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Gisborne storm flooding classified as medium-scale event


Hon Damien O’Connor

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities

Hon Meka Whaitiri

Associate Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Agriculture

12 June 2018

MEDIA STATEMENT

Gisborne storm flooding classified as medium-scale adverse event

Flooding damage around the Tolaga Bay area of Gisborne meets the criteria for a medium scale event, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor and Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri announced today.

Metservice has forecast heavy rain and severe gales for parts of northern and central New Zealand over the next two days, including parts of Gisborne, where significant damage was caused from 200mm of rain falling in 24 hours a week ago.

“The second storm in a week is bringing more intense rainfall to Tolaga Bay and the surrounding area,” said Damien O’Connor.

“The people in this area were just starting to clean up from the impact of the severe rainfall over Queen’s Birthday weekend.”

“During last week’s storms, the Hikuwai River rose three metres and passed flood warning levels within half an hour, worse than forecast and overnight, leaving farmers with little time to prepare.

“The area’s infrastructure, farm land and plantation forestry was significantly damaged, with silt and forestry debris washing up over farmland and damaging bridges. People were evacuated to safety, and stock including 350 ewes and several horses were reported as lost.”

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) has been leading the response so far. Minister Whaitiri, Associate Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, observed the affected area in a flyover last week with Te Uru Rākau officials and Gisborne District Council staff and has maintained close contact with those on the ground.

“The next 24 hours are critical,” said Meka Whaitiri. “It’s unfortunate this weather is coming in so close to the first storm, but people are prepared this time, and will either move, or are wary that another downfall will cause more damage.

“The bigger picture is emerging that it’s not just about cleaning up the immediate damage and stock losses. It’s about support to our communities and how to feed stock over winter when the pasture and winter crops are now under silt and water,” says Meka Whaitiri.

Ministers, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials and industry bodies are working closely with local CDEM, industry and community groups in parts of Gisborne.


“Getting farmers, their families, workers, animals and businesses safely through the next couple of days is paramount,” says Damien O’Connor.

“When this storm passes, we are ready to focus on clean up and recovery.”

Background

Classifying an adverse event as medium-scale means a range of recovery assistance measures can be brought in for the rural community. This can include:

· Resourcing for rural recovery co-ordination.

· Resource for on-farm farm clean-up. This could involve the co-ordination of volunteers or the use of Enhanced Taskforce Gree.

· A boost for the local Rural Support Trust to help serve their communities with pastoral care, including organising local events and arranging recovery facilitators who work one-to-one with farmers.

· Technology transfer activities and events.

Other usual recovery measures, which may include tax flexibility and income assistance options, can be made available as appropriate.


Advice for farmers

· Take care of yourself, your family, your workers, your neighbours and your animals

· Ensure stock and domestic animals have food, clean water, shelter, and are secure.

· If you move stock during flooding update your NAIT records.

· For any advice or assistance call your industry body or local Rural Support Trust on 00 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254). In an emergency dial 111.

Background

What are the criteria for declaring a medium scale adverse event?

There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and large-scale. These can cover events like droughts, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:

· Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;

· Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;

· Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially.

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