Napier flooding: 30 homes declared uninhabitable

By RNZ

More homes in Napier have been declared uninhabitable, following Monday’s devastating storm.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence says as of 4pm this afternoon, 225 homes had been assessed, and 30 are not fit to live in.

Eleven homes on Napier Hill are severely damaged, as are two in the suburb of Marewa.

Affected residents are evacuating to welfare centres set up in Napier and Hastings, or to friends and family.

Civil defence controller Ian McDonald said it was too early to say how much it would cost to fix the damage.

However, safety inspections of dozens more properties are likely to be completed tomorrow, and the longer term challenge will be finding permanent accommodation for people currently in emergency accommodation.

Welfare checks will also continue.

“Multi-agency teams also continue to check people’s welfare and wellbeing in the most severely impacted suburbs of Maraenui, Mārewa and Pirimai and to coordinate support to affected residents,” Fire and Emergency area manager Ken Cooper said.

“We are working with Kainga Ora to check their tenants living in impacted areas.”

Clean-up continues

Mihi and David Alyliffe are enjoying a new lake view from their upstairs balcony over what used to be Whitmore Park.

The downstairs of their Nuffield Avenue home is a different matter.

“We were walking in ankle deep water throughout the whole of the bottom of the house,” Mihi Ayliffe said.

Books, electronics and musical instruments are all water-damaged, she said.

In nearby Barker Road, Tracey Tasovac returned to her home for the first time this morning to find floors flooded and the contents of the garage badly damaged.

“This was all stacked neatly … it was all household stuff in here. My mobility scooter, all our camping gear … personal family photos.”

Her treasured items now lay in disarray across the garage floor, waterlogged and most likely unsalvageable.

“Oh my god … I’m in shock. This is much worse that I thought,” she said as she surveyed the scene for the first time.

While the beneficiary had contents insurance, it would be a struggle to pay the excess, though she counted herself luckier that some in the area.

Barker Rd is one of the lowest lying streets in Napier, and the water was still ankle-deep this morning.

Another resident, Shannon McKay, describes the moment her neighbours had to be evacuated from the flood waters late on Monday night.

“They were flooded, they were on their barbecue table waiting.”

The clean-up also continued in Napier’s CBD.

Music Machine owner Richard Jackman was counting his losses after dozens of instruments and gear were damaged by water pouring in through his roof on Monday night.

He estimated the retail value of the damage was around $70,000.

“That’s probably about a third of our stock.”

It could not have come at a worst time, with Christmas only around the corner and new stock hard to find as supplies have been disrupted by the pandemic.

“The hardest part is the stuff we won’t be able to replace.”

The government this morning announced it was putting $100,000 into the Napier Mayoral Relief Fund, to help people get back on their feet.

Marae open doors to residents

Meanwhile marae in Napier are opening their doors for anyone affected by the floods.

Ngāti Kahungunu has geared into action since the heavy downpour began earlier this week, launching their emergency response teams which were set up during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said volunteers had been helping whānau on the ground clean-up damaged properties.

“The marae just geared up automatically and said, ‘we’re ready, we can take a hundred’. Marae have already set up beds and cooks have been made available,” he said.

“The rest of the community has kicked in too. We’ve had some of the other ethnic communities kick in and, because we supported them during Covid, they’ve been ready to support us back. So it’s been quite a merge of communities in support of each other.”

There had been no uptake of marae-stays yet, with many people concerned about leaving their homes, he said.

“A lot of people are reluctant to leave their houses because they don’t want to go into hotels, motels and motor camps, but they might be a bit more enthusiastic about going to marae where there’s a lot more freedom,” he said.

“They can take five, six, 10 family members without feeling like they’re imposing on anybody, and they have their own mana still intact. We’re also talking about some low-decile communities, and a lot of them are afraid to leave their houses and goods because of security reasons.”

He urged them to do so for safety reasons.

“Although there’s a bit of euphoria about water and rivers running down the streets and people being out in kayaks and setting white-bait nets up, having a bit of fun, it’s also a health risk because the waste water is now mixed into the stormwater,” he said.

“There are quite severe threats to whānau and to communities if we keep this novelty thing going on and we need to look after the people.”

Tomoana said he was pleased to see different services and groups work together today to support people in need.

“There’s quite a good collaboration on at the moment. There was a vacuum of communication at the start where everybody forgot the lessons learnt over Covid that it takes everybody to work in a collaborated fashion, but that’s been re-balanced this morning, because a lot of effort was going into some communities and very little was going into others,” he said.

“The re-balancing is people first and property second and not the other way around.”

Minister for Emergency Services Kiri Allan met with iwi representatives today to discuss further recovery efforts.

Labour MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri has also been in the community with gumboots on helping whānau on the ground.

-RNZ

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