Sunday, November 28

Westport flood: 450 houses not yet habitable or damaged

Almost three months after floods devastated the coastal city of Westport, 140 people remain in temporary accommodations, living in cabins, motels or with friends and family.

A partially submerged car outside flooded houses on Disraeli St, Westport.

A partially submerged car outside flooded houses on Disraeli St, Westport.
Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defense Force

About 450 houses remain uninhabited or damaged, and only a small number have been fully repaired.

Romilly St residents Stephen Switalla and his wife have been living in their father’s house, next to hers, since the floods left their home uninhabitable.

The couple are still waiting for the repair work to be signed.

“The place is dry and we are still waiting for the builders to rebuild our house inside, so it has to have new walls, new laundry, new bathroom, new kitchen, carpet, vinyl.”

He said the builders expected to begin repair work later this month and were aiming to finish in January.

There has been an influx of merchants in Westport due to the large amount of work to be done.

Christchurch-based Parthenon Construction has been doing business in the city for the past two months.

A flooded section in Westport.

One of the houses damaged by the floods
Photo: RNZ / Anan Zaki

Managing director Daniel Fridd said they are currently working on 28 homes, with plans to repair up to 50 as part of a takeover deal with insurance companies.

“A lot of it is predominantly interior material, but it’s stripping a house, whether it’s 600, 1200 or even the ceiling, it’s new kitchens, bathrooms, floor coverings, completely redecorated for most of them.”

He said the first houses would be finished and ready for people to move into starting next week.

The work has kept his team busy on the ground in Westport.

“Between builders, painters, electricians and plumbers, we have about 15 people here today. As we rotate through a list of 11 on, 3 off the list, the guys come in on a Monday and work until the following Thursday and then have three deserved days. free and then go back and do it all over again. “

Figures from the Insurance Council show that insurers have so far covered more than $ 85 million in losses from 1,769 claims.

There are still about 140 displaced residents.

Flood waters cover a section in Westport.

Flooding on a Westport property
Photo: RNZ / Anan Zaki

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine said progress had been steady but slow, which was expected due to the complex nature of the recovery work.

He says a third of the 470 affected residents had repairs in progress, a third were still dealing with their insurance companies and the remaining third, many of those without insurance, were struggling.

“The Auckland lockdown is also having a real lockdown effect on the entire supply chain. Personally, I have some real concerns about what the prevalence of Delta may mean when it hits the South Island, I hope that will happen in the coming weeks. and I don’t see how that won’t complicate and slow things down even more. “

Development West Coast executive director Health Milne said access to housing was already an issue in Westport, further exacerbated by the July flooding.

“There are a large number, particularly older people, who have had to leave the area as a result of the flooding and are desperate to return, so we are only looking to work with local trust and accelerate the construction of those new houses.

The organization had allocated $ 2 million to build homes for the elderly and $ 350,000 to help with the relocation of five Kāinga Ora houses in Christchurch.

“There is a plan in place right now that should see some really good activity before Christmas with some houses and quite early in the New Years to be built and ready for people to move in.”

He said it could be two years before the rebuilding is complete.

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