DWC pledges $3.57 million to Westport flood recovery

29 September 2021
Development West Coast
Development West Coast (DWC) Trustees have approved in principle a $3.57 million package to support Westport’s flood recovery.

Westport Flood Recovery Package

DWC Chair Renee Rooney said Trustees were keen to support the recovery, acknowledging the flooding in July was a significant regional event requiring a coordinated recovery.

“It has been a devastating blow to Buller, damaging homes and farms, and causing much disruption to the region.”

The flooding left 23 per cent of Westport’s housing stock in need of repair. 71 homes were severely damaged and deemed unsafe, while a further 388 homes require significant repairs. There has been close to $90 million in insurance claims, and about 140 people remain displaced from their homes.

DWC Chief Executive Heath Milne said the flooding has had a profound impact on the District and its business community, while also exacerbating pre-existing issues with the housing stock.

There was already an acute shortage of rental and permanent accommodation in Westport, which has been put under additional stress from displaced residents and the number of tradespeople coming into the district for repair work.

“We’ve been working closely with Buller District Council (BDC) and their Flood Recovery Team to establish a support package that will assist the business community, while also aligning with the region’s housing and aged care strategies,” Mr Milne said.

DWC’s package includes a $1 million business support fund to assist Buller businesses through the recovery.

“The structure, eligibility and criteria of this fund will be established following the completion of a survey to assess business needs in the community,” Mr Milne said.

$20,000 has been allocated towards analysis of the number of temporary houses required.

Funding of $2 million has been approved in principle for aged care housing. DWC will work in partnership with local stakeholders to expedite the building of residential units to specifically target local flood-effected elderly residents.

$350,000 has been approved in principle to assist with the cost of relocating five houses donated by Kāinga Ora for displaced residents.

DWC will also contribute $200,000 to Community Energy Action Charitable Trust (CEA) as third-party funding. This together with CEA’s discretional funding and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority Warmer Kiwi Homes grants for insulation and heating will amount to over $1 million for improving the standard of Buller homes, over the coming months.

CEA’s Chief Executive Caroline Shone said “I’m thrilled and humbled that DWC will provide this funding to CEA. This will allow us to offer ‘free insulation’ and possibly heating too to those that are eligible, particularly in an area that has been hit so badly in recent months.”

Buller Mayor Jaime Cleine said BDC and their recovery team have been partnering with a number of agencies to ensure not only an appropriate response to the floods but a sustained recovery.

“I’m very pleased DWC have supported our request to support the business community and to accelerate our urgent housing needs. These initiatives will certainly help our District navigate a recovery that is complex and will take time to work through.”

Flood Recovery Manager Bob Dickson said “We are very appreciative of the funding assistance provided by DWC and look forward to exploring further opportunities with them to support the Westport flood recovery programme.”