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THE FORGOTTEN VALLEY: Special post-floods report

Flagstaff Team

Nearly a year on, pain of deluge still felt on Shore

As the year draws to a close, hundreds of flood-struck local homeowners are no closer to feeling secure about their futures. That is why this final Observer of 2023 is focused on the ongoing human cost of the Auckland Anniversary Day floods that briefly made  the Wairau Valley the centre of national attention. Footage of supermarket goods floating off shelves and cars drifting down streets filled television screens and was followed by the news two men had been washed to their deaths.

Rescuers waded and kayaked in to save residents, including elderly people at inundated retirement villages. The Observer reported on the community heroes who mobilised to support neighbours in need. 

The impact of that devastating evening continues for residents, businesses, schools and community facilities still grappling with recovery and insurance issues, so for this issue we’ve revisited some of them.

We’ve called our six-page section The Forgotten Valley, because attention soon turned to more dramatic footage of further extreme weather events across the North Island.

In some badly hit pockets in our area, damage is still being repaired. But homes are again being bought and sold and new ones built. Intensification, adding to infrastructure pressures, continues apace in known flood plains. 

Nearly a year on, many people are none the wiser about what assistance is coming, what property buyouts might entail or when they will be assessed. They want answers on when flood-remediation plans will be delivered.

A briefing to the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board is expected soon. A community meeting in Milford late last month put council staff known as “navigators” in front of around 40 residents to offer advice. It wasn’t well advertised, but as one resident told the Observer: “It was the first time anyone from council came to us.”

This end-of-year indication of activity is a welcome sign, but still a long way short of reassuring citizens they can rest easy when the rain starts.

Read more: THE FORGOTTEN VALLEY: Special post-floods report

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