East Coast Floods: Green Light for Storm-damaged Home Buyouts After Councillors Approve $204m Package

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Buyouts for storm-damaged homes in Gisborne can get underway, with councillors voting to accept the government’s $204 million offer.

Council documents show the aim is to have all payments settled by June 2025.

As well, 51 homes were in category 3 and eligible for a buyout, and about 770 properties were in category 2, meaning work is needed either at the property or community level to protect them from future flooding, but they are not eligible for a buyout.

At least 10 properties were on whenua Māori, and eligible for the Kaupapa Māori process still to be finalised by central government.

The decision to accept the offer comes after what the council itself admitted was a short consultation period of only two weeks, which still garnered more than 200 pieces of written feedback, as well as in-person feedback from community hui.

The government’s offer was all or nothing – the council could only accept the terms in full, and 90 percent of public feedback was in favour of accepting the offer.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz told a council meeting on Wednesday, before it shifted into private chambers for the vote, that an enormous amount of work had gone into the policy.

“People worked day in and day out, and aside from the fact that this is just mahi, our team also acknowledge that we’re working with people’s livelihoods, and we’re working with their hearts and their aspirations and their fears.”

The $204 million package includes:

  • $64m for flood risk mitigation (the council must pay 10 percent toward the costs of each project, so the combined investment will be $70m), includes stormwater and drainage improvements, making room for rivers, riparian management and new stopbanks
  • $15m for buyout of category 3 properties, with the council and government going halves based on the valuation of these properties as at 12 February, 2023
  • $30m interest-free loan to fund council’s 50 percent share of category 3 buyouts and category 2 flood-risk mitigation, road and bridge repairs (not counted as part of the package total because council will need to pay it back)
  • $125m for local road and bridge repairs. The main project is a $45m alternative to Tiniroto Road funded fully by the government’s offer
  • Additional funds will fix cyclone-damaged bridges, rebuild those which were destroyed and clear roadside drains and culverts

Source: RNZ