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Monday, July 15, 2024
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The long road to recovery

In the Tararua District, recovering from Cyclone Gabrielle remains challenging, with ongoing rain events adding to the existing damage, causing even more challenges.

These events have certainly added to the stress in the rural communities which have been impacted.

More than 200 people responded to our impact survey, which gave the council some good, informative, background data.

Our sheep and beef properties made up the largest number of properties to suffer slips, damage to infrastructure, loss of fencing, as well as silt and debris. Over half experienced damage from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of their properties, which is significant, with a whopping 106,657km of fencing reported as damaged.

There have been more than 78,000 metres of farm tracks damaged across 54 farms, and there are many reports of animal health issues because of the weather. Significantly, 1445 hectares of damage to forestry on farms was also reported alongside more than 200 hectares of trees planted for erosion control and 4390 meters of riparian planting destroyed. The damage to farms included more than 257 culverts and farm bridges that require repair and replacing, which is evidenced in the $7 million of damage already recorded, with costs still coming in.

Many lifestyle properties also suffered significant damage.

Roading repairs have been estimated at $100m, and teams have been out over the past few weekends attending to slips and fallen trees as the ground is saturated and vulnerable. We are grateful for their work and commitment to keeping our roads open and our people safe. Like many of our farmers, it can be soul-destroying to watch further damage occurring, and it will be a long road to recovery.

Events are being planned in our rural communities to provide some time out to meet and catch up with others. But it is very difficult to get off the farm with so much work ahead.

Adding to the pressure are reported predictions of a dry summer, with our Dannevirke Impounded Supply needing to be emptied to allow repairs to be carried out. Discussions and plans for this continue, and we are looking forward to our first meeting being recorded this week, which will be our Infrastructure, Climate Change and Emergency Management Committee, where the dam repairs and updates will be presented.

This committee was changed last year to highlight and provide additional focus on emergency management and climate change, which have both come to the forefront this year.

Many of the communities most impacted have taken the opportunity to focus on resilience during an emergency, with communications and power creating challenges during Cyclone Gabrielle. Funding for one Starlink system, which provides satellite internet, has been ordered, and once this has been set up and tested, more will be ordered to provide emergency cover across our district.

We will also be working with our civil defence groups and discussing generators and plans to create further resilience.

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Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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