Bay of Plenty flood claims could top $1m

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An insurance company has received claims that could exceed $1 million for damage caused by last month's floods in the Bay of Plenty.

Houses and streets flooded when a severe storm hit the region on April 20-22 with 433 incidents reported to city authorities. The most affected areas were Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Otumoetai.

The AMI Tauranga branch received close to 500 claims for damage to residential properties, but those claims also cover loss of contents.

Insurance Council of NZ chief executive Tim Grafton said the total number of insurance claims and exact losses for each region were not yet available. But the initial total claims were up to 1000 for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region, he said.

Karen Riddington, acting Tauranga branch manager at AMI Insurance, said last month's storm was a "big event' and on a par with the May 2005 floods.

"It's too early to say what the exact value of the close to 500 claims we have received will be, but it could be in excess of $1 million," she said.

Mount Maunganui's Vagabond Mens Denim St store was one of a number of commercial properties left with major flooding damage after the April 20-22 storm.

The store had to be gutted for repairs and was set to reopen on Monday, with an estimated insurance bill of more than $100,000.

"It's been pretty damn hard having 95 per cent of your stock and contents ruined, and having to close for six weeks, but one thing we can be thankful for is that we were fully insured," Vagabond's owner, Chris Dofflemann, said.

Cleaning firms around the city have been grappling with a big increase in business as a result of the floods.

Jae Services cleaning firm owner Joel Willoughby said they had an extra 600 flooding jobs added to their books, and still had about 90 properties requiring re-instatement work.

"It's the largest number of flooding jobs we have had in the 15 years we've been in business in Tauranga; the next largest was 275 in 2010," Mr Willoughby said.

About a dozen extra technicians and about 1000 extra blowers, driers and other equipment had to be brought in from outside the district.

Chem-Dry Tauranga owner Rohanne Hancock said her firm was also busy.

"The damage from this storm was a lot bigger than the 2005 floods, and we didn't stop working until May 11. We still have half a dozen jobs on the books and most of which are strip-out jobs on the Tauranga side of the city," she said.

Tauranga City Council spokesperson Marcel Currin said there was no council report that provided a cost to ratepayers of flooding clean-up costs associated with the flooding.

A report was to be tabled at the council about potential costs to be considered for future flood mitigation.

Mr Currin said although the intensity of the rain event was similar to the 2005 floods, the results were far less severe.

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council is also awaiting final accounts to come in before knowing the exact costs but the indications are $50,000 to $80,000.

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