4 Jul 2015

Rural residents still cut off after floods

8:50 am on 4 July 2015

Whanganui's mayor says access has been restored to most of the region's rural properties but slips mean some residents are still relying on supplies flown in.

The region received more than a month's worth of rain two weeks ago, causing major flooding.

Ten rural roads were still closed, and the Wanganui District Council says many roads are only suitable for emergency services and residents with four-wheel-drive experience.

Mayor Annette Main said many people were still cut off.

"We can get to probably around 90 percent of our rural population, there is just still some pockets- one of those is the Whanganui River road that stretches about 65 kilometres and is still closed.

"But they're coping really, really well."

She said the closures meant some children were having to use the internet to contact their teachers and continue their school work.

Ms Main also said without more financial help from the Government to cover flood damage, costs would fall on the ratepayer.

"And when you're in a community that has a lot of assets and a lot of infrastructure that it's rating for and also challenges such a failed water treatment plant, that just adds to the rating burden for our citizens and can become unaffordable."

The council was already forecasting additional roading costs from the impact of upcoming forestry harvests.

Ms Main said about a third of those property owners were uninsured or under-insured with many more still uncertain whether their insurance covers flooding.

Metservice has forecast rain for the Whanganui area this evening and over the next few days, which could cause further problems in the region.

Ms Main said the council's main focus was on restoring access to rural areas but any rain could hamper the clean up work which was being done.

Properties to be assessed by EQC

Whanganui properties issued with a red notice following the recent floods will be assessed by the Earthquake Commission.

Nineteen properties were put in the Red category after they were found to be too seriously damaged or hazardous for the residents to return.

The Whanganui District Council says it will accept assessments provided by EQC after initially telling residents they had to undergo a separate process with a geothermal engineer.

The Council's Chief Executive Kevin Ross said the council would be unable to receive the assessments directly, and property owners would need to provide the council with a copy.

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