Saturday, November 27

Some still homeless on the first anniversary of the Napier floods


Some people are still out of their homes a year after the Napier flood, with no signs of returning anytime soon.

Steady rains for the past two weeks have delayed work on the Freeman White home a year after the floods.

Steady rains for the past two weeks have delayed work on the Freeman White home a year after the floods.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Today a year ago, a meteorological bomb swept through the city, leaving floods throughout the city streets.

Napier City Council data shows that 589 properties were damaged, 115 were left uninhabitable and 173 people had to evacuate from their home.

With a pot in hand, Bluff Hill resident Freeman White was still dealing with rainwater yesterday, albeit more recent rains.

He almost died last year after a landslide rushed to the back of his house.

But recent rains delayed it.

“We were ready to start building this huge retaining wall tomorrow, but we had about two weeks of fairly constant rain, so we had a little collapse here, nothing major, nothing compared to what it was last year.”

He wasn’t even close to being ready to go home. Work on the house itself had not started properly.

“I have people all the time, you know if I’m in the supermarket or wherever, walking down the street, people waiting for the insurance to pay for everything and we’re back at our house now and it’s fine a year later. Well I am afraid that no, it’s just not that simple and it’s not a happy story yet, it will be because I’m not going to give it up. “

His family had moved to the suburb, into a nearby house, having lived in various properties since the flood.

Across from Mataruahou or Napier Hill, Paul Matthews’ backyard has only gotten messier since last year.

He had to cut down trees that were an imminent risk.

“I paid for all those trees to fall, but I had to leave them on top of my mess, so now I have seven or eight large trees on top of my landslide.”

Progress was being made slowly, even if part of it was that the house was considered canceled.

He thought the process could take five to ten years.

He was renting a house in the city, while spending time in his own house most nights after work and on weekends.

“I am committed to the fact that I have to move on, clean and stabilize the land that I still don’t know whether to rebuild, I don’t even know how long awaits me yet.”

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise remembered the pressures of last year all too well.

“As a first-term mayor, declaring a state of emergency just after 12 months in office is not at the top of your wish list, I would have to say.”

Napier flood - house

The Napier floods last November.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Just over a week ago, there was a flurry of heavy rain and thunderstorms that filled her with unease.

“When we have a lot of rain, it is natural for our community and, in particular, those who were significantly affected, to be very concerned and quite anxious.”

The Napier City Council planned to spend more than $ 40 million to improve the stormwater system.

But Wise feared that the three central government water reforms would reverse that.

“That is the real concern that we have here at Napier, and particularly because the central government model that they have put on the table actually has a fraction of the planned investment in our three waters compared to our own plan that we have.”

The council also wanted residents to be vigilant about matters in their own homes. Residents were asked to clean gutters and drains when heavy rains were forecast.

In the longer term, it would encourage moving away from designs that use impervious surfaces like concrete.

Some buildings and infrastructure in the city remain closed after the flood.

Two of the steps to the walkway on Napier Hill remain closed, and one more has limited access.

Centennial Hall, an event center, remained closed and was getting a new floor. Wise said it was expected to open late this year or early next.

They are not evacuated due to flooding at the council’s Kennedy Park Campground and Resort.

Two people remained under the temporary accommodation of the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment, and were due to move or return home at the end of the month.

One home was still in a portable cabin and the other was housed at the Shoreline Motel on Marine Parade.


www.rnz.co.nz

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