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Door-to-door farm visits welcomed as floodwaters recede

24 April 2017
Door-to-door farm visits welcomed as floodwaters recede and costs become clearer

Teams from the local Rural Support Trust and Red Cross have been documenting destroyed pastures, damaged homes and inundated orchards, as they carry out assessment visits to flood-affected farms and orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

“Our farming and growing families have been very stoic in getting through the flooding, and now our visit is a chance for them to sit down, have a cup of tea, and see what they need to move forwards with recovery,” says Igor Gerritson from the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust.

“What’s immediately clear is the extra cost associated with the evacuations of about 5000 cows, and the pressing need to buy feed for stock whose grazing is destroyed by floodwaters. The cost of transporting stock out alone is estimated to be $75,000 in the first week of the event.”

The Rural Support Trust has set up a bank account 0489 00160308 04 specifically for donations to help rural flood victims cover some costs associated with the flood damage.

The coordinated visits, planned through the Civil Defence Emergency Management group, are to streamline information gathering and reduce the number of different agencies and visitors who go to each affected property. The teams will do a detailed needs assessment and then pass each farmer or grower to the right agencies to progress their needs.

“Once you get off the beaten track, you really get to see the severity of farm damage. Water races and fences have been washed away or covered with silt and debris, pasture and crops are hard to recognise after days underwater, and with the second storm there are dozens of trees down too,” says Igor. “Some farmhouses have been badly damaged by the water, with gib pulled off the internal walls.”

Five teams are visiting across the region, and expect it will take just over two weeks to get through them all. Other teams will then move into more urban areas as people there get back home and have a chance to take stock of their situations.

More than 5000 dairy cows are estimated to have been evacuated and are now being returned to their farms where possible, and Dairy NZ is offering farm management advice, assistance with feed plans and surveying for animal welfare problems. NZKGI is providing support to growers who suffered flooding at a critical time of the year, and has been helping get water pumped out of orchards.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been coordinating rural response and recovery efforts and working on getting information out to people in the affected areas.

“As we move from response to recovery phases, we are working closely with rural recovery stakeholders to agree what recovery structure they would like to put in place to support them as they move forwards,” says MPI Director Resource Policy, Kate Hellstrom.

Federated Farmers’ 0800 FARMING line continues to be the central point for farmers seeking on-farm assistance or feed. The Rural Support Trust (0800 RURAL HELP) has trained facilitators who can help rural people with other needs including stress management and where to go for further information.

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