11 Feb 2022

West Coast flooding: MPI considering adverse event classification - O'Connor

2:24 pm on 11 February 2022

Stock animals swept away in the West Coast flooding have been retrieved, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says after a flyover of the region.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor visits Canterbury to assess damage after days of flooding and heavy rain.

Agriculture Minister and MP for West Coast-Tasmen Damien O'Connor (file photo) Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Heavy rain fell in Westport and surrounding areas yesterday - causing rivers to rise and a state of emergency to be declared.

Civil Defence said the weather eased overnight and the rivers have since dropped.

O'Connor, who is also the MP for West Coast-Tasman, joined Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine in a flyover of the region this morning.

"Early reports of impacts on farms in Buller include damage to infrastructure and access, including inundation of one home, farm buildings, paddocks and loss of farm roads and fences.

"Most farmers have been able to move stock to safe higher grounds where it is being monitored. We did hear of some cattle in Maruia being swept away, but these have since been retrieved."

O'Connor said road closures were causing access problems, disrupting milk collection on some farms.

"Up to 300 bales of winter feed have been washed away in floods. However, there is plenty of feed around and farmers are rallying together to support each other."

He said with the situation changing very rapidly, rivers up and more rain expected in the coming days, MPI was working closely with the community to determine the likely need for any assistance and whether there was a need to classify an adverse event for the West Coast.

West Coast Federated Farmers president Bede O'Connor said farms had been badly damaged but things were not as bad as last July's flood.

"There's significant damage again, two paddocks that I had just repaired after July's flood are now covered in silt again, but luckily it's not as significant as July.

"In terms of the wider region the damage seems to be more widespread this time - I've heard there is bad damage to farmland in Reefton and Inangahua."

Bede O'Connor said assessments would be done in the coming days but many farmers were focused on repairing access to their properties for milk collection.

The Rural Support Trust said it had been out visiting farmers this morning and many were in good spirits.

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