1 Aug 2021

'The mood has been very good' - Westport flood victim

10:56 am on 1 August 2021

A Westport resident says locals are staying positive, two weeks on from the flooding that put much of the town under water.

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Life in Westport is slowing starting to return to normal. Photo: Anita O'Brien

The latest figures show 70 homes are deemed uninhabitable, and a further 393 have damage.

Local Stephen Switalla is living at his father in-law's house next door, while he awaits repairs on his flood-damaged home.

He said although many people are living in temporary accommodation, residents are trying to remain upbeat.

"The mood has been very good. It's good to be in a town, a community like this."

Switalla praised the welfare teams who have provided support and said that relief funds are now coming through.

"We've had money put into our bank account from the mayoral relief fund which has helped."

He said many damaged homes now have builders doing work.

"I've talked to a lady this week, she's already had builders in ... doing her house."

Buller High School and surrounds in Westport, flooding, 17 July 2021

Buller High School and surrounds in Westport, flooding, 17 July 2021 Photo: Supplied/NZ Defence Force

Members of the University of Canterbury's Student Volunteer Army also pitched in to remove four tonnes of rubbish from a beach in flood-hit Westport yesterday.

They were joined by Buller High School students and Civil Defence to clean up debris.

Student Volunteer Army president Luke Burke said he is immensely proud of the team for their efforts.

"It was sort of your regular beach clean-up but on steroids.

"Rubbish from all of the catchment area has just washed through this beach grassland and is making a pretty sizeable mess."

Carters Beach in Westport

Beaches were flooded in Westport. Photo: Westport News

Burke said they were coming across bottles and other bits of plastic every few steps along the beach at around the high tide mark, but there was little rubbish left by the end of the clean-up.

"We went all the way to the end of the beach, along the west side, I'd say there's very little rubbish left there. We walked a good 3 or 4 km heading east, and same story, there's actually very little left there."

He said it was great to be able to help out.

"All the contact we've had with the community is just so positive.

"They've just been so happy to see us, and we're more than happy to be helping them. So, yeah, win-win."

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