Storm will cost millions

By Mike Dinsdale

It could be weeks before the financial costs of the weekend storm that devastated Northland are known but the bill is expected to run into the tens of millions.
The tail of Cyclone Wilma swept a wave of destruction across Northland and much of the upper North Island after it hit land late on Friday, dumping up to 280mm of rain on parts of Northland in 19 hours.
The storm caused widespread flooding, slips and damage to roads and property and left about 3500 properties across the region without power.
All the Whangarei roads that were closed during the storm have reopened, although some may be down to one lane.
Insurance Council of New Zealand CEO Chris Ryan said it would be several weeks before the number of insurance claims made from the storm damage was known. "It will depend on the number of people who are insured and their level of insurance," Mr Ryan said.
He was unsure if the claims would reach the $61 million of insurance claims made from Northland after the major storm which swept through Northland in July 2007.
Whangarei District Council spokeswoman Ann Midson said the council could be looking at an $8 million repair bill after the weekend's damage, which rivalled that caused by the 2007 storm.
Work on clearing roads would continue for weeks as land continued to slip or needed stabilising.
"We're taking stock and we're kicking into recovery mode," she said.
Ms Midson said the council was also urging drivers to be extra cautious on flood-affected or damaged roads.
Whangarei Harbour has been closed to shellfish gatherers and swimmers after sewage spilled from a number of sites around the harbour.
Far North District Council spokesman Rick McCall said cost assessments for remedial work in the Far North were still far from complete but there were preliminary indications that Wilma might have left a legacy of up to $5 million in costs for permanent repairs to local roads.

Clean-up and temporary repair work on slips and washouts is expected to be complete in the next few days. Priority will be given to clearing a large slip on Haruru Falls Rd to provide two-lane traffic for the Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi.

- Northern Advocate

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