11 Jun 2024

Flood-damaged homes still in limbo: 'No reason to believe they will get things done'

7:23 am on 11 June 2024
Dave Wileman says his property had to be stripped out after the storm water destroyed it

Dave Wileman registered his flood-damaged property last year after it was completely destroyed by storm water, but is still waiitng on certainty. Photo: supplied

More than half of those who registered their flood-damaged homes for Auckland Council's storm categorisation programme are yet to learn the fate of their properties.

It has been 16 months since the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods damaged thousands of homes across the city.

Nearly 1500 home-owners were still waiting to find out if their properties can be repaired or will be bought out by council.

Belinda who lives in Swanson, West Auckland, is one of them. The stream behind her home broke its banks during the 2023 floods amd storm water completely destroyed parts of her home.

With more wild weather heading into winter, the damage was getting worse.

Belinda and her family were still trying to live in the house that they have owned for five years, but she said it was not safe.

"We've got mushrooms growing in our bathroom," she said.

"There's mould growing in every single room. It doesn't matter how many times you wipe it or try to kill it."

She was the house was damp, and had a smell running through.

"We've been underneath the house, there's nothing dead, but it's just a permanent rotting smell now."

She said there was black mould and she had a developed a permanent cough

Category one meant people can continue living in a house, two meant a property needs to be fixed and flood protected, and three meant a buy-out, with the house likely being demolished.

Belinda registered her home for a risk assessment with Auckland Council in June 2023. An assesment was carried out in September.

"The assessors didn't say anything. I just took them down the back and showed them all the damage and everything like that and he said: 'Yep, yep'. I walked inside and then I when I walked back out again, they'd gone."

She said council did not update her with the outcome contact afterwards.

"I emailed every couple of weeks just to see how things are going.

"And probably about three weeks ago I received an e-mail. It was just a generic e-mail to say that they're still looking at categorisation and doing further assessment."

Council said in a statement it expects to provide the results for Belinda's property by the end of June this year.

"Technical assessments have been done to assess the 'risk to life' based on flooding levels. But we are doing further work considering any structural implications of flooding under the [Belinda's] house."

Belinda said time was running out and she was desperate for answers.

"We have such a massive mortgage still on this property that my husband and I are in our mid-50s, no banks going to look at us in Auckland to get into another million dollar property," she said.

"We're looking at whatever money we can get and it won't be enough for a deposit on another property in Auckland."

Stormwater came through Dave Wileman's property

Dave Wileman's damaged property Photo:

Little hope of a speedy outcome

Dave Wileman also registered his flood-damaged property last year.

It was completely destroyed after storm water came up 1.3 metres into the house.

He was hoping council would assign him a category at the beginning of 2024.

"I stopped working full time at the end of last year, thinking that I would have stuff to do this year on that property."

Auckland Council said it expected to have an outcome by the end of June, but Wileman was not hopeful.

"They've given me no reason to believe that they will get things done and and furthermore, do the right things by people."

Wileman's insurance company paid him in July last year to fix his damaged house.

But without the council's category decision, he cannot start repairs on the property.

If the insurance money sat in his bank account till the end of the financial year, he said, he will have to pay tax on it.

"I think I'd be an idiot to spend the money on the house without having some sort of answer from the council.

"That money is just sitting in my bank account and next time I put in a tax return, I'm picking that I'm going to lose a third of [it]."

In a statement, council said the delay is because his property is part of a high risk location, and its considering work on the wider area.

It said it would not complete some risk assessments until it had talked to central government about helping to pay for infrastructure work.

"Auckland Council has put a proposal to the government to accelerate the outcome for this area so that we can provide certainty to those waiting as soon as possible.

"We are currently in discussion with central government to confirm whether this proposal is feasible under our co-funding arrangements with them."

"Until the outcome of the discussions with government ministers is known, we can't complete some risk assessments and confirm these property categories."

In the meanwhile, with more wet weather on the way, Belinda has an evacuation plan to make sure the family stays safe.

"We've got a kayak. It was actually my cousin that used the kayak to save some people across the road when fire couldn't get there.

"We've got four cats and a dog, so we do have an evacuation plan to get out as soon as possible."

Home owners had until September this year to complete council's flooding and landslide registration form for a free assesment.

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