OPINION: Range of help available after flood

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OPINION: RANGITATA MP JO LUXTON

I want to start my writing today by saying thank you. The weather event and flooding from road and bridge closures to evacuations region has faced this past week has tested us, but our community spirit has stood up to that test.

Thank you to Timaru Mayor Nigel Bowen and the Timaru District Council for your clear and concise messaging keeping everyone up to date and informed, to our emergency responders for working huge hours to keep us safe, to our farmers and rural communities who have pulled together and helped with sandbags, tractor usage, food drop-offs and offering hot showers. There are countless more say thank you.

This one-in-100-year flood has been absolutely devastating for our farmers been hit hard. Damage to fencing, expensive equipment being water-logged or swept away, loss of winter feed, loss of stock up is daunting.

As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while assessing the damage first hand in Ashburton, we are here to help our farmers. The Government will be standing alongside them.

While in Ashburton, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor declared the floods a medium-scale adverse event, unlocking funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures. The funding will help speed up the recovery of farming businesses and includes wellbeing support and specialist technical advice.

The money will be used for recovery grants, to enable the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust to provide extra help to our farmers, and for other flood assistance where needed.

This is not a final figure. We will continue to access further support as the full extent of the flooding damage becomes clearer. I am committed to helping our rural community get back on their feet.

Funding has also been contributed to a mayoral relief fund which provides an additional way to help communities bounce back after an emergency.

Local communities and councils are well-placed to know exactly what they need, so this funding can be used, for example, to meet the needs of affected families and individuals, community organisations or marae. The funds will be provided to the Christchurch City Council mayoral relief fund to be disbursed across the Canterbury region.

The Ministry of Social Development has also activated Civil Defence payments. If you were stuck somewhere other than home or evacuated, experienced a loss of income due to your workplace being closed or not being able to get to work, need emergency food, clothing or bedding if yours has been damaged by flooding, you should contact 0800 752 102 to apply.

You do not need to be on a benefit to access this support.

My staff are here to assist with queries also. Please don’t hesitate to call (03) 688-9588. If you need us to call you, please text 021-875-062 and we will call you. You can email rangitatamp@parliament.govt.nz

We will get through this together.