An estimated $15-20 million worth of damage was caused by the Auckland Anniversary storm and Cyclone Gabrielle, Western Bay of Plenty Council says.
Combined with information provided by the Tauranga City and Rotorua Lakes Councils, the Western Bay’s estimates bring the cost of the storms to the region to between $16m and $21m.
The news comes after regional councils called for the Government to invest $257m to speed up 92 projects on rivers across New Zealand in preparation for future storms.
Cyclone Gabrielle’s damage to the North Island in mid-February included historic flooding, widespread destruction to agricultural, horticultural and viticultural lands, dozens of impassable roads, severe coastal erosion, the country’s third National State of Emergency declaration ever and loss of life.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council has estimated the overall damage bill to be between $15m and $20m, “give or take up to 30 per cent”.
Reserves and facilities manager Peter Watson said it was still too early to have an accurate estimation for all the repairs needed.
“Most of the damage incurred was to roads and bridges, including washing out of No. 4 Road Bridge in Te Puke, where a temporary bridge is now in place,” Watson told the Bay of Plenty Times.
“Damage to reserves and associated clean-up costs were approximately $40,000. We have 32 sites [and] activities in need of repair work which will take more than two years to complete.”
Watson said decisions were yet to be made on the level of reinstatement on some roads pending consultations.
“We’ll be seeking funding assistance from the Government through the established Financial Assistance Rate for emergency works and repairs.”
The council will continue to plan for and mitigate the effects of climate change events on communities.
“We’re grateful to the Western Bay community for being so well-prepared and for working with us to report and work around damage as needed.”
In response to a request made under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, Tauranga City Council revealed Cyclone Gabrielle had cost an approximate total of $399,500 to date.
Of this figure, $80,000 was incurred by contractors in the City Waters team for “handling a high volume of mechanical issues with our pump stations, ongoing proactive checking of the Three Waters network and the replenishment of sandbags”.
The cyclone cost the council’s transport team $110,000 due to downed trees and powerlines, blown-over lighting poles, street cleaning and staff costs.
The largest cost of the cyclone, $199,500, was for cleaning up fallen trees and branches and repairs to walkways, sand ladders and beach accessways.
The council’s response to the information request also stated that the clean-up was “continuing” and tree stumps that still required grinding or removal would incur more cost.
A debriefing document on the cyclone response to the Tauranga City Council by emergency management team leader Daniel Pearce, two weeks after the storm, praised the staff response.
“Staff understood roles and responsibilities [and the] controller demonstrated calm leadership,” Pearce’s debriefing said.
Areas for improvement highlighted in Pearce’s debriefing included the need for more digital support and improved communication with sites outside of cell coverage.
In March, Rotorua Lakes Council estimated Cyclone Gabrielle had cost an estimated total of $800,000. The figure included $500,000 in emergency repairs and slip clearing, $150,000 in damages to lakeside structures such as walkways and jetties and $150,000 for the clearing of fallen trees.
A Rotorua Lakes Council spokesperson told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday there had been no updates to the figures since.
The spokesperson said the cost of repairing damages to the roof of the Energy Events Centre and the “majority” of the greenhouses in the council’s nursery was still unknown.
Rotorua Lakes Council deputy chief executive for infrastructure and environment, Stavros Michael, said the council would continue to work with developers to ensure good planning and design of housing and commercial development to address foreseeable risks.
“[The council is] continuing to upgrade Three Waters infrastructure and increase its capacity in line with climate change predictions,” Michael said.
“It is important for people to understand that this does not guarantee there won’t be flooding or damage as a result of future events because we cannot predict the nature, intensity or extent of future weather events that could exceed the network’s design capacities.”
Michael said this meant preparedness and resilience at an individual, household and wider community level was key.
“We will continue to work with our community on emergency preparedness plans and will continue to work with council staff and partner agencies who undertake civil defence duties to maintain our civil defence response capabilities.”
When asked for an estimate of the cost of damages from Cyclone Gabrielle, Bay of Plenty Regional Council general manager of regulatory services Reuben Fraser said the question was “probably best answered by the territorial authorities”.
Fraser said the council had been focusing on supporting Tairāwhiti and Hawkes Bay.
“[We have] yet to fully debrief our emergency management response to the event or formalise lessons learned from responses in other regions, but we will be doing that.”