Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Buller storm relief sweeps in

The Government will contribute $600,000 to help residents affected by the weekend’s violent weather with recovery efforts.

Acting Minister for Emergency Management, Kris Faafoi and Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor have been in the Buller district this afternoon to assess flood damage and support the local response effort.

They have announced an initial contribution of $300,000 towards a Buller Mayoral Relief Fund and another $100,000 towards a similar fund for Marlborough. Alongside that, the event has been classified a medium-scale adverse event, unlocking another $200,000 for flood-affected farmers and growers across the West Coast and Marlborough regions.

“While it is too early to know the full cost of the damage, we expect it to be significant and this contribution will help communities to start to get back on their feet,” Mr Faafoi said.

“I know it’s been a really rough weekend for the people of Buller, Marlborough and Tasman and I’d like to acknowledge how disruptive and distressing this flooding has been for all affected communities.

“This has been a massive effort with multiple agencies working across a range of areas. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to some of those working on the front line and they’re doing a great job.”

Minister O’Connor said the extra funding will be used to help farmers recover, and includes wellbeing support, specialist technical advice and other flood assistance.

“This weather event has put further pressure on farmers who’re entering one of their busiest times of the year – calving and lambing – and we’re committed to helping them get through,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Based on the advice I have received from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff, the scale of impact is beyond the communities’ ability to cope.

“MPI will be working with industry groups, such as DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers and NZ Winegrowers, to determine how this financial support can have the greatest impact.

“Support is available for farmers who are short of livestock feed, or who have had baleage and fodder crops damaged by floodwaters,” he said.

“A big cleanup and recovery effort lies ahead for communities impacted by this flooding, and I can assure you the Government will be doing all it can to help,” Kris Faafoi said.

Mayoral Relief Funds provide an additional way to help communities bounce back after an emergency. Local communities and councils are well-placed to know exactly what they need so this funding can be used, for example, to meet the needs of affected families and individuals, community organisations or marae. The funds are in addition to other support that people may be eligible for through the Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Primary Industries.

The national Feed Coordination Service can help connect farmers with surplus supplementary feed listed for sale. Farmers needing feed support are encouraged to call 0800 FARMING (0800 32 76 46). Farmers who need wellbeing support should call their Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP or 0800 787 254.

Assistance measures can include:

  • Resourcing for rural recovery co-ordination;
  • Resource for on-farm farm clean-up. This could involve the co-ordination of volunteers or the use of Enhanced Taskforce Green;
  • A boost for the local Rural Support Trust to help serve their communities with pastoral care, including organising local events and arranging recovery facilitators who work one-to-one with farmers and growers;
  • Technology transfer activities and events.

Other usual recovery measures, which may include tax flexibility and income assistance options, can be made available as appropriate.

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