South Island floods: Government commits $600,000 to flood recovery as locals face aftermath of adverse weather

The Government is contributing $600,000 to help residents affected by this weekend's floods in the South Island with their recovery efforts.

While weather conditions are beginning to clear, heavy rainfall caused significant flooding in Marlborough, Tasman, and Buller on Saturday, and around 900 people were evacuated from their homes as a result. A State of Emergency was also declared in Marlborough.

While in the Buller district on Sunday afternoon assessing flood damage, acting Minister for Emergency Management Kris Faafoi and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced several funding contributions for affected communities. The first is $300,000 towards a Buller Mayoral Relief Fund and another $100,000 towards a similar fund for Marlborough. Alongside that, the event has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event, which unlocks another $200,000 for flood-affected farmers and growers across the West Coast and Marlborough regions.

"While it is too early to know the full cost of the damage, we expect it to be significant and this contribution will help communities to start to get back on their feet," Faafoi says.

"I know it's been a really rough weekend for the people of Buller, Marlborough and Tasman and I'd like to acknowledge how disruptive and distressing this flooding has been for all affected communities.

"This has been a massive effort with multiple agencies working across a range of areas. I've had the privilege of speaking to some of those working on the front line and they’re doing a great job."

O'Connor says the funding will be used to help farmers recover, and it includes wellbeing support, specialist technical advice, and other flood assistance.

"This weather event has put further pressure on farmers who're entering one of their busiest times of the year - calving and lambing - and we're committed to helping them get through," he says.

"Based on the advice I have received from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff, the scale of impact is beyond the communities' ability to cope."

MPI will work with groups such as DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, and NZ Winegrowers to determine how this financial support can have the greatest impact, O'Connor says.

"Support is available for farmers who are short of livestock feed, or who have had baleage and fodder crops damaged by floodwaters."

The national Feed Coordination Service can help connect farmers with surplus supplementary feed listed for sale. Farmers needing feed support are encouraged to call 0800 FARMING (0800 32 76 46).

Farmers who need wellbeing support are advised to call the Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP or 0800 787 254.

"A big cleanup and recovery effort lies ahead for communities impacted by this flooding, and I can assure you the Government will be doing all it can to help," Faafoi adds.

Multiple state highways will remain closed overnight as NZ Transport Agency contractors work to repair roads impacted by the adverse weather.

Journey Manager Tresca Forrester says the only roads expected to remain closed overnight are SH6 through the lower and upper Buller Gorge and SH63 from Renwick to Tophouse Rd.

Earlier on Sunday, crews successfully reopened SH1 between Picton and Blenheim, as well as SH7 both from Reefton to Springs Junction (Rahu Saddle) and from the Hanmer Turnoff to Springs Junction (Lewis Pass). Forrester says SH6 between Blenheim and Nelson is expected to reopen from Renwick to Rai Valley later on Sunday afternoon and SH6 between Murchison and Kawatiri/SH65 Shenandoah should reopen early in the evening.