Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hastings counting cost of Cyclone Gabrielle

Hastings District Council is counting the cost of the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on the district, with response support costs already topping $1.3 million.

At its first full meeting since the cyclone hit on February 13, Councillors heard today that costs so far incurred to support the response were $1.3m. The figure excludes roading and three waters (drinking water, stormwater, wastewater) infrastructure expenses, Council said in a statement.

The district’s roading network has been significantly damaged – nine bridges destroyed, seven badly damaged, and 19 with damage to their approaches. Thirty bridges are still yet to be assessed.

Council says it is currently spending more than $600,000 a day on essential roading repairs and access restoration alone, and estimates some of the work may take months to complete.

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said insurance and channels for funding assistance from Central Government were available to help offset the costs, but the event would still have a big financial impact on the Council.

“There’s no question that we need to be directing our immediate efforts on supporting our community facing the devastating impact of this event, and repairing the damage to our infrastructure to ensure we can keep providing our services,” Mayor Hazlehurst said.

“Just as important, if not more so, is the need to look ahead and turn our focus to our district’s recovery. This will involve multiple agencies across the region, and nationally, and will focus not just on our infrastructure but also the wider economy, restoring business confidence, and attending to cultural and social needs.

“We are already in discussions with key partners and stakeholders to ensure we have a co-ordinated approach to support our district’s recovery; that this is done as efficiently and effectively as possible, targeting the areas of most need.”

She said Council’s existing financial strategy and investment priorities would have to be reassessed and possibly changed to meet the needs of the community and achieve sustainable recovery outcomes.

“As we move beyond providing the emergency response, we are going to have to take a hard look at our priorities as outlined in the Long Term Plan 2021-31, and there may need to be changes to the planned investment activities.”

“This is going to be a key focus area in the weeks and months ahead, and we will be asking the community for feedback on any proposed changes as we work through this process.

“Uppermost in our mind is the wellbeing of our people and the effective and safe delivery of our essential services. This event has tested us all and there are many who will need our help for months to come.”

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