West Coast Tasman National List MP Maureen Pugh was granted leave from Parliament this week to travel to the flood-ravaged parts of South Westland, visiting some of the affected property owners from the South Side of the Waiho River.
“I took National’s spokesperson on Small Business and Waitaki MP, Hon Jacqui Dean with me, as there is obviously great concern about protecting assets and continued business viability for many smaller operators” Mrs Pugh said. “The devastation is widespread, especially after the Milton Stopbank failure with fences damaged, stock lost, good pasture destroyed, and winter crops gone as well as significant damage to the lifeline for the area, the airstrip.”
Mrs Pugh says that the reinstatement of the stopbank will give residents the security over their assets that they deserve. “From the people we spoke with, I can see that the community is very relieved that the Regional Council has resolved to urgently reinstate the stopbank, which could conceivably be back doing its protection job before the thaw at the end of winter and the Spring rains.
“As we left, the rain was setting in again and water was again threatening to flow through
properties. From personal experience, I feel those people’s pain of having to stand by and watch your years of hard work being scoured out and washed away, leaving just silt and gravel” she says.
Maureen Pugh says the community has worked together effectively through adversity once again and she describes the resilience in rural areas shown as ‘simply amazing’.
“What I did not hear was anyone asking Government for a cheque. They simply wanted the stopbank they had paid for and had insured, to be reinstated.”