Mayor calls in experts to probe slips

By Kristin Edge, Anna Bowden


Geological experts will be brought in to investigate what factors contributed to last week's destructive flood as insurance claims hit $63 million.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said specialists from outside Tauranga will arrive next month to assess the contributing factors to the flood which included examining stormwater issues.
"It is our expectation that we will be able to give a preliminary view on the worst affected properties within three months. But the stormwater approach and any changes, would not become known for at least six months," Mr Crosby said.
More families returned home yesterday as clean-up work continued around the city.
The Insurance Council of New Zealand has received 2200 flood related claims worth $45 million, while the Earthquake Commission estimates it will be paying out $18 million.
Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said the total was expected to rise further as investigations continued in flood-ravaged areas.
"Some people have been paid out in total already, others have had emergency payments to help them with clothing and vehicles while we continue to investigate," Mr Ryan said.
In addition to personal insurance claims, the business and farming communities have also lost substantial amounts of money from flooding disruptions.
A public meeting will now be held at Baycourt on June 8 where residents will be able to question a panel headed by Mr Crosby.
The council has been inundated with questions from residents, many of whom have not been directly affected by the flood.
Recovery team leader Terry Wynyard will front up to answer questions as will the council's chief executive, Steven Town.
Other members on the panel are yet to be confirmed.
Mr Crosby said the recovery team had been unable to answer all questions about the future of land and properties.
"We are aware there are plenty of home owners in the badly hit areas that have not been directly flooded but have a number of concerns for the medium and long-term future for their properties," Mr Crosby said.
There will be a mail drop next Wednesday in all affected streets with some frequently asked questions being addressed.
Home owners are being urged to contact the council with their questions before the public meeting.

For people who cannot attend, a follow-up mail drop will cover what was said at the meeting.
A further public information meeting will be held in September for residents to hear progress and ask further questions.
Meanwhile, rain slowed recovery work in Tauranga yesterday. Mr Wynyard said some work could be continued in the rain but not the demolition of a house on Hinewa Rd.
Council was hoping to get agreement that another three houses on Pillans Rd could be demolished but the matter was yet to be resolved by all parties.
Seven more families were able to return to their homes during the day.
The clean up for one Tauranga business has been fast-moving in order to keep business going. for its customers.
PC's Wholesale Clothing - a Bureta Road store - is managed by Rochelle Perry who ensured her shop stayed open and avoided being red-stickered by council and health officials this week.
Four other shops in the block had to close their doors after they were declared "contaminated" when officials assessed them.
But Mrs Perry and her family began work last Friday, removing newly laid carpet, taking out flood damaged walls and disposing of some stock.
Now the hard work has paid off - the shop has new walls and new flooring will be finished next week.
"We just can't afford to have that smell in our shop," Mrs Perry said.
Her family have helped with all the building, electrical and cleaning work - including a 14 hour day on Sunday to ensure the damage was repaired as quickly as possible.
Across on Landscape Rd, elderly newlyweds Daniel and Astrid Goldie were elated to have moved back into their home yesterday.
The word "neighbour" has never meant so much to the couple who have suddenly formed strong friendships with those who live near them.
"It's been one hell of an experience," Mr Goldie said.
The pair were married in February and live together in their unit, which sits beneath the gaping landslide that swallowed another home.
Mr and Mrs Goldie have stayed at Hotel Armitage and Melrose Park while out of their home since May 18.
"It is just unbelievably marvellous to be home," Mr Goldie said as he sat at his dining room table.
"Nothing in the house has been spoilt.
"We are so lucky."
Meanwhile, his neighbour Matthew Dean is still living at his mother's home because his unit is now carpeted in mud and debris.
"Even though I've basically lost everything I can't fall apart in this. I've got to pick up the pieces and keep moving on."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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