Destructive Westland flooding 'preventable' -- Mayor

Destructive Westland flooding 'preventable' -- Mayor

Labour MP Damien O'Connor and Westland mayor Mike Havill will put together a Government proposal this week in an effort to stop the Waiho River breaking its banks again.

That's exactly what happened last week and the Mueller Hotel near Franz Josef is now almost certainly a write-off.

Mr O'Connor wants the Government to ensure the stop banks are reinforced, but concedes he and Mr Havill will have to present a watertight plan first.

There were warning signs the river would break its banks in a heavy downfall. 

Mr Havill says it could have been prevented, but there isn't enough money to help solve the problem.

When the river broke its banks, it smashed through the Mueller Hotel -- the sheer force of the water destroying everything in its path. Chairs were tossed outside and thick silt carpets its 46 rooms. 

"I believe it could have been prevented. The river's been playing in to that area, in to the bank of the river and at some point it had to go," Mr Havill says.

The Waiho River flows downstream from Franz Josef Glacier and has been steadily rising for decades.

From the air, you can see how close the Mueller Hotel sits to the river on the northern side.

It posed such a high risk to hotels on the south side they were relocated by the Government more than a decade ago.

Mr Havill says his council can't afford to fix the stop banks. He says the region needs the Government to throw its support behind a long-term fix, helping avoid a repeat of disasters like last Wednesday's.

"Next week it could be the school or the kindergarten or the Top Ten Holiday Park. There's no shortcuts here, it's a pretty big event."

In all, 170ml of rain fell in the town in 24 hours. Locals say that happens up to 20 times a year and officials can no longer avoid putting prevention methods in place.

"It wasn't a flood, it was just sheer mismanagement, I believe, of the seriousness of the inadequacies of the banks protecting the hotel and the sewage system," local Gavin Malloy says.

Residents want someone in power to take responsibility so that West Coast rivers will no longer break their banks and cut a path straight through hotels like this in the future.