16 Dec 2011

Red stickers on Nelson and Tasman homes

8:32 pm on 16 December 2011

Building inspectors have put red stickers on a number of homes in Nelson city and Tasman after the worst rainfalls in decades, causing slips that have endangered about 200 homes.

A Civil Emergency is still in place for Nelson and Tasman after the worst rainfall in 40 years. It is not expected to be lifted until Monday.

Building inspectors and geotechnical engineers checked homes on Friday after days of heavy rain caused hundreds of landslides.

Civil Defence group controller Jim Frater says the process that used in Christchurch following the earthquakes was followed.

He says a number of homes are not habitable, but more accurate data will not be available until Saturday.

Mr Frater says occupants of homes that have red stickers may be able to move back into their homes in time, but they are not habitable at present.

Key reassures

Prime Minister John Key reassured those affected that they will be fully covered for any Earthquake Commission claims.

The commission has received 72 claims so far and many more expected.

Mr Key says while the commission's fund has been depleted by billions of dollars paid out on the Canterbury earthquakes, it will have enough to pay for the flooding disaster.

If it didn't, he says, the Government would step in.

The Insurance Council expects hundreds of claims to come in.

Spokesperson Brett Solvander says that despite big hits from Christchurch earthquake claims, companies will be able to handle the latest claims.

Nelson's mayor Aldo Miccio says just clearing debris away has probably already cost $500,000, with much more to come.

A forecast of more rain in Nelson and Tasman has prompted a warning from Civil Defence officials that more slips could occur in the flood-ravaged area.

Houses to be demolished

There have been several hundred evacuations, with 185 recorded landslips in Nelson alone.

Mr Miccio says some houses will need to be demolished.

He says there is also a risk of further landslides because the ground is saturated.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne says he knows of about 140 households evacuated in Golden Bay.

The mayors expect the clean-up and recovery in the Nelson-Tasman area could take more than a year.

Mr Kempthorne says the clean up of a similar flood in the Tasman area last year cost about $5 million.

Water main

Crews worked urgently on Friday to ensure the main water pipe in Nelson does not collapse after a slip near the Maitai reservoir in the hills behind the city.

Land has slipped away beneath the pipe, leaving it exposed near the treatment plant.

A dozen houses were evacuated on Thursday night from a waterfront suburb in Nelson.

Many houses were without power overnight and some phone lines in the Tahunanui area could be down until 22 December.

Golden Bay

There are reports of frenzied supermarket shopping in the Golden Bay township of Collingwood.

Birds Hill Road has a major slip and is not expected to reopen for several days.

Food is to be trucked into Collingwood on Friday, using a four wheel drive route.

Beachfront Motel manager Fiona Shearer in Pohara says about 20 homes there are flooded.

Many are holiday homes and people are helping clean them.

The general store was flooded but is now operating again.

Like a jet engine

A Takaka man says the noise of walls of water on his farm was like a jet engine.

Church of Christ pastor David Thorpe says a stream on his property which usually flows at 30 litres per second was flowing at closer to 10,000 litres per second. It all happened in just 20 minutes.

Luckily, all 16 people at three houses on the property escaped safely.

Civil Defence is urging people in isolated communities to get in touch with the Tasman District Council if they need help.

A helicopter is working its way through these communities on Friday to check on residents who cannot get out.