Canterbury floods: Farmers assess 'devastating' damage as weather finally clears

Farmers have begun assessing the devastating damage to their properties as weather finally clears after the severe Canterbury floods.

Around 400mm of rain fell across parts of Canterbury over recent days, causing rivers to burst their banks and resulting in widespread damage to infrastructure and properties.

Many of those affected by the wild weather were farmers, who battled to keep stock safe amid the flooding.

The weather finally cleared on Tuesday so damage could be assessed by both farmers and the Government - and it's widespread and heartbreaking.

"It's pretty devastating for some people," says Ashburton farmer Chris Ford.

"This year was just a new dimension, at least tenfold or twentyfold better than anything we've ever seen. There's just no way you could ever plan for it," adds Ashburton Forks farmer Chris Allen.

Allen's farm is in the worst of it. Two dramatic rescues happened outside his gate - the cars are still abandoned and keys in the ignition. The occupants are lucky to be alive.

"They were two very, very lucky people," he says.

On his sheep and beef farm, they got nearly half of last year's entire rainfall in just 48 hours.

"Parts of the farm are pretty devastated."

Tuesday was moving day, where thousands of livestock are usually transported either on foot or by truck.

"Traditionally at this time of year, the farmers are still moving around, so that's an additional complication with the transport links that have been broken," says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Canterbury floods: Farmers assess 'devastating' damage as weather finally clears
Photo credit: Newshub.

Some farmers were thankful they were still able to go ahead this morning.

"Cows are all off-farm now away in their new grazing, so we're okay," Ford says.

While it's unknown just how many stock have perished since floodwaters surged, the rescues have been well documented. Thirty-four alpacas were rescued from an island on the Ashley River.

"There will be stock losses, we've had some minor stock losses," Allen says.

Many winter crops have been wiped out and hundreds of fences destroyed.

But flood-stricken farmers and growers in the region are to get $500,000 from the Government.

"It's great news, it's a good start just to get things going and in the future. I'd say there'd need to be a heck of a lot more," Ford says.

Allen was able to tell Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday morning face-to-face what is needed.

"We said look, it's about actions on the ground. Farmers are stressed from dealing with so many things going on in our lives, then the rainfall event, and then just seeing parts of the farm grossly devastated," he says.

Ardern says seeing the damage from above was "devastating".

"From the aerial view, you just get a sense of the scale. It is quite devastating in some areas. There's a lot of work for us to do alongside farmers to support them in their recovery. A big clean-up job lies ahead of us."

And people are banding together.

"It's really neat to be part of a really passionate community around here. We're all looking after each other, mates looking after mates," Allen says.

Because looking after the mental health of these devastated farmers is as important as looking after the farms themselves.