Helper army gets around flood spots

An aerial view of the flooded Mataura River and Gore. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
An aerial view of the flooded Mataura River and Gore. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The clean-up continues for residents affected by the recent flooding, a big helping hand being given to Southland’s farming community.

While 26 community hubs helped more than 1800 people since the flooding hit, the aid farmers needed came in a more physical form.

To help, Southland Federated Farmers enlisted volunteers who spent the weekend visiting farms that experienced damage over the past week.

"The response to the flooding is continuing across Southland with an ongoing focus on making sure people are all right and are getting the information, support, and resources they need,"Emergency Management Southland controller Bruce Halligan said.

There was plenty of help for people needing it, and just under 100 people were helping farmers at Edendale and Riversdale yesterday.

‘‘There is still lots of work to do, however, and the call for volunteers will continue, co-ordinated by Federated Farmers. Fonterra have a crew assisting the Farmy Army and their emergency response team will be fully mobilised from Monday."

The Rural Support Trust had contacted nearly 900 farmers in flood-risk zones.

Meanwhile in Milford, while State Highway 94 would remain closed for ‘‘the foreseeable future", the airport opened yesterday for fixed-wing and helicopter flights.

"Having the airport open during the regional state of emergency will greatly assist the recovery effort and mean commercial tourism operations will be able to use it to access Milford,” Mr Halligan said.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency journey manager Peter Brown warned the region’s roads would be busy in coming days and asked people to take care on the flood-damaged roads.

"On top of the Field Days traffic, groups of people with machinery are helping with the clean-up after last week’s floods across the regions, particularly around Gore and Mataura."

He said contractors would carry out damage assessments and urgent repairs on the roading networks, which would make some normally quiet back roads much busier.

"People should expect to see more traffic at cross-road intersections — be ready for that. If you need to be somewhere on time, leave in plenty of time so you are not taking any risks or getting stressed.”

The Mataura Community Centre would still open during the day along with a water tanker, and daily rubbish collections of debris from flooded houses.

Gore has water tankers at Gore High School and the East Gore Arts Centre.

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