The Buller District has experienced multiple serious weather events over a period of 7 months, in July 2021 and February 2022.
The July event
The flow breached Westport’s existing flood defences, with 826 properties and over 2,000 people requiring evacuation. Three separate civil defence centres were established to support displaced people in need of emergency accommodation. An unknown number of other impacted residents chose to stay with friends or families.
In the following days, 563 houses were assessed as either red or yellow placarded. The second wave of assessments were completed towards the end of the first week resulting in 71 red placarded homes – 384 yellow and 108 as safe to return home. Out of 983 dwellings in Westport town, 23% of the housing stock will need repair to make them habitable.
people were evacuated at the time of the event
placed into emergency accommodation in Westport over the event.
welfare needs assessment cases have been reviewed and carried out
homes were severely damaged and deemed unsafe (red placarded)
tonnes of flood affected domestic waste was sent to landfill to clean-up Westport.
homes while inhabitable need significant repairs (yellow placarded)
The February event
The second February weather event of the 9th and 10th was given a Met Service ‘orange’ designation. The EOC was reactivated with a State of Local Emergency being declared on the 10th. Significant flooding started to occur across the district, slips were evident, the Karamea highway was badly affected (31 slips and 8 slumps), farms flooded with the Maruia and Inangahua Rivers in peak flows. All roads north and south of Westport were closed effectively cutting off the district. Further mandatory evacuations within Westport occurred.
This second February flood event caused extensive infrastructure damage across the district and affected communities from Springs Junction to Punakaiki, and north to Karamea. The Karamea Highway was cut off for five days, and then only passable with three convoys a day with significant traffic interruptions. More than 60 tourists sheltered in place in Karamea and were evacuated as soon as roads were passable.
This event had a severe effect on rural properties across the region with the Mokihinui, Inangahua and Maruia Rivers all breaching their banks. Major slips also occurred cutting off the Seddonville and Powerhouse Road communities and another major slip was experienced at Waimangaroa. Major infrastructure damage was caused to the Westport and Waimangaroa water supplies. A week after the event, slips were still occurring due to saturated ground, with a major slip at Granity causing two further properties to be red placarded and one to be yellow placarded.
Due to the severity of the issues with the Westport Water supply system, which supplies approximately 4500 people within the town of Westport and Carters Beach, the EOC was reactivated on 16 February 2022. The main water intakes had been damaged by landslides along with pipe work that takes water from the intake to the town’s raw water reservoirs with only 10 days of supply remaining at this point.
First Event – 119 households evacuated to the Holcim evacuation centre. Many more households self-evacuated. Second event – 72 Adults and 16 children evacuated to centres in Westport, Waimangaroa, Sergeants Hill and Carters Beach.
MPI Rural Welfare Checks 10 Properties with critical damage, 24 severe damage, 25 moderate damage and 43 minimal-no damage.
Many ongoing welfare needs assessment cases have been reviewed and carried out by the Community Navigators.