Long road back for flood victims

They may be back in their homes, but the struggle continues for many victims of the South Dunedin flood.

The area was one of the hardest hit when more than 160mm of rain fell in less than 24 hours in the city on June 3 and 4.

Many residents said the flooding was the worst they had seen.

• $13m pipe work not a complete fix: council 

Family Works Presbyterian Support Otago social work supervisor Deb Gelling said the last of the families displaced by the flood moved back into their homes at the end of October.

However, it was a long road to a full recovery for some families.

"We still see the odd family struggling to try and get back on top.''

Some families who had house insurance discovered certain items were not covered by any policies, she said.

"Like lawnmowers, for example, and shoes have been a big one. A lot of wardrobes got flooded and that meant people were back to [owning] one or two pairs of shoes.

"Some [children] have had to wear their school shoes everywhere, for instance, because they don't have another pair.''

A lack of bedding also remained a problem for many people, Mrs Gelling said.

"People used to have resources. Now, if it's raining and they haven't got their sheets in [from the washing line], then they've got bedding problems.

"Losing personal belongings has also been quite hard, so there's the emotional rescue of that sort of stuff [to overcome].''

Oxford St resident Heather Conder moved back into her rented home in August, but emotional scars remain.

Her house sustained extensive damage as water rose almost a metre inside the property. Carpet and kitchen and bathroom tiles had to be replaced during the repairs, as did some furniture and whiteware.

Mrs Conder's house lies only 15-20cm above the ground and the closest drain is outside her gate in the driveway of the shared flat section.

"It still gets a puddle of water right out there [in the yard],'' she said.

"I get nervy any time it starts raining. Last week it started raining down quite hard and I was at work and I thought 'I hope my house is all right'.''

Mrs Conder and her daughter Jennifer remained in the house for a few days after the flood before being evacuated by Dunedin City Council staff for health reasons.

Both became sick for several weeks, suffering from dysentery and burning eyes, she said.

The pair were out of their house for two and a-half months, spending a month of that time in motels.

Those bills, plus the cost of replacing furniture, totalled about $1000, she said.

"It was a relief to get back in [to the house], even though there were teething problems. Just being able to relax [was a relief].''


Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter