Now the clean-up and recovery begin

News in mid-March that La Niña is over after three years will be a relief to those affected by the recent flooding and cyclone.

The La Niña weather pattern accounts for why the South Island has had long dry summers of late, whereas in the North Island it has been wet, especially in the north and east.

After the dreadful floods of Anniversary Weekend and the damage wreaked by Cyclone Gabrielle, our communities are now in clean-up mode and the recovery process is underway.

For some, especially those living along the west coast of the electorate, including Port Waikato, this will take months. I have been keeping in close contact with affected residents in these communities and meeting with various groups on a regular basis.

In early March, Malcolm Beattie did a great job of facilitating a meeting with the 23 families at Port Waikato who have had their homes red or yellow stickered. Representatives from EQC explained that claims could take up to 9 to 12 months to resolve. However, people need clarity around the status of their home and support now while they wait to rebuild. I organised TVNZ’s 1News team to interview residents to help raise awareness of their plight. You can watch that video here.

Blocked drains and slips caused much of the widespread flooding and I have spoken to Watercare’s interim chief executive on this issue.

It is pleasing that both Watercare and Waikato District Council have responded well to the events, particularly the council’s roading alliance group which dealt promptly to a significant number of slips on the Tuakau Bridge Port Waikato Road, likewise the Port Waikato Waikaretu Road that collapsed just beyond the Port Waikato School Camp and which has since been reopened to traffic, albeit temporarily while a permanent fix is sorted out.

It has been heartening to see the number of events being organised in our region to help raise funds for flood-affected victims, not just here in Franklin but across the North Island.

Pictured - Port Waikato Holiday Park manager Jade McCormack is interviewed for 1News.