Reality hits for flood-affected South Canterbury farmers

A South Canterbury farming leader says reality is starting to sink in for farmers affected by severe flooding from the Rangitata River.

The one-in-20-year event caused widespread damage to farms, closing nearby highways and forcing the evacuation of some houses and stock.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Jason Grant said around 12 large farms, mainly dairy-operations, had been the worst affected.

"It's left a lot of debris and carnage behind it," he told Rural Today's Dominic George.

He said the emphasis had been on making sure people were safe and that cows were fed and milked.

"Any stock that doesn't need to be in there, we will start trucking them out to other properties."

Some cows were still cut off by the floodwaters, and unable to be milked.

"We are hoping the flood flows drop so we can get the cows to the shed."

Large dairy farms had been hard hit by flooding.
Large dairy farms had been hard hit by flooding. Photo credit: Newshub

Farmers were now turning their attention to the clean-up ahead, which Grant said would take its toll on those affected.

"People run on adrenalin for two or three days, then that wears off and that's when it hits home."

Farmers had been heartened by offers of support and help.

"The clean up is going to be where the assistance from the public will be of real value."

The Government announced on Sunday it was to provide funding to support affected farmers, with Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor declaring a medium-scale adverse event for the district.

A big clean up is ahead for farmers.
A big clean up is ahead for farmers. Photo credit: Newshub

"I've agreed that up to $50,000 should be made available to the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust to help provide backing to help these communities on the road to recovery, including pastoral support and specialist technical advice," he said.

Ministry for Primary Industries field-staff is also providing advice and assistance on the ground.