Floods damage hundreds of vehicles, more than 200 may be written off

Floodwaters in Westport have damaged hundreds of cars beyond repair. PHOTO: NZDF
Floodwaters in Westport have damaged hundreds of cars beyond repair. PHOTO: NZDF
More than 200 vehicles hit by Westport floodwaters look likely to be written off as water damage proves too costly to fix.

West Coast District Health Board general manager Philip Wheble, said the DHB lost about 16 cars parked in Pakington St. They would not know how many would be written off until insurance assessments were done.

‘‘The West Coast DHB pool [share] vehicles used across all services and we are currently using temporary rentals.’’

DHB staff were not available to move them as they were prioritising patient evacuations.

At Richards Motors in Westport, administration manager Graeme Cummings said he had ‘‘never seen anything like it’’.

‘‘We’ve probably collected 50 cars so far, with more to come. We are bringing about five cars per hour back to the workshop, with one truck and four crew operating.

‘‘We expect to have over 200 eventually.’’

They were getting calls from both insurance companies and private clients requesting salvage. For the uninsured, there was little they could do, and advised them to dump the car.

‘‘The insurance company works on the basis that if water enters the cab, it’s a write off as the electronics are compromised.

‘‘I doubt we will fix any that have water in them, as the water damage means six months down the track they can pack up again and then it’s back on to the insurance so they [insurance companies] just wipe their hands of them first thing.

‘‘We started collecting [damaged vehicles] over the weekend, on Saturday we were pulling them from rising waters.’’

Amanda Fifield of AA Insurance said it had handled almost 60 vehicle claims.

It was too early to say the number of written off vehicles or those salvaged from the waters until the damage had been assessed.

The team had 20% more calls on Saturday than usual, and 70% more on Sunday.

- By Meg Fulford, Greymouth Star

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