‘It will take time and money’ – Canterbury floods fallout

11:17 am on 11 September 2021

Talks around future flood safeguarding in Canterbury are developing with the Ashburton District Council taking a back seat to other authorities, three months on from the historic rain event which lashed the region.

Flood water lashing the Ashburton Bridge on May 30.

Flood water lashing the Ashburton Bridge on May 30. Photo: LDR / Adam Burns

An upshot of the 30-31 May floods which wreaked havoc in mid-Canterbury is becoming clearer including a damage bill which is approaching the $20 million mark.

Council have effectively wrapped its recovery commitments with Civil Defence and other local authorities taking the reins.

Alongside a road bill of about $5 million, the council's flood recovery exit strategy report noted uninsurable damage to hundreds of properties which may cost up to $14 million.

Civil Defence was also advocating for a second urban Ashburton bridge to government as a result of the flood after the existing bridge slumped.

"Returning our infrastructure to pre-flood conditions will take time, and money," the report said.

Many in the rural sector believe they were the sacrificial lamb during the floods with Federated Farmers' David Clark calling for further discussion around how disparities between urban and rural flood exposure could be addressed.

The report by the council's recovery manager Toni Durham, which was tabled at last week's council meeting, suggested that this remained a long-term consideration.

"The most important long-term question for the district remains the reinstatement of the Ashburton River flood protection.

"This includes the broader conversation around river rating districts and what flood protection and management look like in the future."

Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown said a series of discussions at regional council were occurring.

Brown commended how council responded to the event, particularly around communication despite "a few gaps which were identified afterwards".

"As a whole I think we did pretty well."

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