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Massive task ahead for region

Friday 8 April,  2022

Contractors, Council workers, Government agencies, communities, neighbours and strangers have all joined forces to move into clean-up mode on the back of the prolonged weather event late last month.

Some areas were particularly hard hit, like Tokomaru Bay where many had only just finished cleaning up from the last one. Silt has found its way into carpets, homes, cupboards, septic tanks and schools.

“It calls for a big effort from everyone,” says Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann. “We will be doing an assessment of needs, prioritising what needs to be done when and then ensuring there are the resources to get that work done.”

Woody debris on beaches across the region will be closely looked at too.

“If it appears there have been breaches of the Resource Management Act, Council will carry out further investigations,” says Ms Thatcher Swann.

“The clean-up from this particular event is huge because of how widespread it is. Anecdotally people have compared it to Cyclone Bola but it affected different areas within our region and people differently, so it’s hard to measure.”

She says it is too early to estimate the cost of the clean-up but whatever that is will be met by the Government and Council.

“Clean-up efforts like this require people power and machinery, some of which we may need to bring in from out of town, but we are still assessing just what is needed.”

The priority continues to be to reconnect the region, to ensure people can move around, visit whānau and have access to groceries and medicines.

Ms Thatcher Swann was happy to hear up to $500,000 Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) funding will be made available to help with the clean-up, as announced by Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni yesterday.

This $500k will help employ people for the clean-up, complementing the $175k Mayoral Relief Fund already contributed by the Government.

“As a Council we are working closely with central government and regional agencies to ensure our hard-hit Coastal communities get the assistance they need.”

Farmers and growers can self-register for clean-up help by contacting 0800 834434 TFG HELP, and anyone interested in being employed for this work can register by email eastcoastjobsteam@msd.govt.nz.

ENDS

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