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Storm damage to Far North roads hits $30m

By Peter de Graaf

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State Highway 11, between Paihia and Kawakawa, was flooded in last month's storm. Photo / Peter de Graaf
State Highway 11, between Paihia and Kawakawa, was flooded in last month's storm. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The cost of repairing Far North roads damaged by last month's storm has soared to more than $30million - almost two-thirds of the district's total annual roading budget.

The Far North District Council expects it will take 12 months to fix the 100 most urgent slips and slumps out of the 293 triggered by the storm.

The good news for the area's hard-pressed ratepayers is that the Government has pledged to pay most, possibly more than 90 per cent, of the bill.

While the final figure is some months away, Mayor John Carter has put the cost of fixing local roads at $30.8m. The council's total roading budget for 2014-15 is $46.8m.

Mr Carter has vowed to push for as much Government assistance as possible. He had already held a one-on-one meeting with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and would hold another once the storm cost was more certain.

In the aftermath of the storm Mr Brownlee issued a statement reassuring Northlanders they would not have to foot the multimillion-dollar bill for storm damage by themselves. If the total cost was high enough the Government could pay more than 90 per cent, he said.

Far North District Council assets and infrastructure manager Jacqui Robson said applications had been lodged already for almost $10m in subsidies from the NZ Transport Agency for the 41 most urgent slips. It could take four to eight weeks before NZTA confirmed whether funding was available.

Another $10m in subsidy applications was likely to be lodged by the beginning of September. The highest-priority job was a temporary bypass in Pipiwai Rd, a 200m section of which had been closed since the storm by three slips.

NZTA spokesman Ewart Barnsley said agency and council staff would meet next week for a detailed inspection of storm damage and emergency repairs. NZTA's share of the bill would be determined by several factors including the council's total rate take and the final cost of storm repairs.

The cost of fixing state highways, including slips that wiped out SH1 south of Kawakawa and at the Brynderwyns, would not be known until the repairs were complete. Highway repair costs are covered directly by NZTA. In the past five years NZTA had provided $35m for emergency repairs to Northland roads.

A report to Wednesday's Whangarei District Council infrastructure committee meeting estimated road damage around Whangarei would cost $2m to fix. NZTA was expected to provide a 52 per cent subsidy for Whangarei's repair work.

Four houses were cut off for three days due to slips on Takitu Rd at Opouteke and some roads around Hikurangi Swamp are still closed due to flooding.


By the numbers

*475.5mm: Rainfall at Wiroa Rd near Kerikeri.
*170km/h: Strongest wind.
*60: Local roads closed at height of storm.
*4: State highways closed (1, 10, 11 and 12).
*293: Slips on local roads.
*$30.8million: Estimated cost of repairing local roads in Far North.
*$2million: Cost of road repairs in Whangarei.
*$140,000: Cost of repairing Twin Coast Cycle Trail.
*80-120: Houses flooded in Moerewa (9 inundated).
*16,000: Homes without power at height of storm.
*10 days: Time some homes without power.
*$1.5million: Estimated cost of repairing Top Energy power network.
*5000ha: Dairy land under water for up to 10 days (Northlandwide).
*$20million: Estimated cost to dairy industry (Northlandwide).
*$13.5million: Estimated loss to avocado industry.
*30: Estimated number of boats sunk, badly damaged or with dragged moorings.
*15: Rescues by Fire Service (mostly motorists trapped in floodwaters).
*134: People seeking help from MSD.
*1: Fatality (drowning at Haruru Falls).

-Figures for Far North only, unless otherwise stated.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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