Metservice’s local extreme weather warnings have been upgraded from orange to red, prompting the Insurance Council of New Zealand Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa to warn those living on the West Coast of the South Island to heed the advice of local civil defence authorities at once.
Red warnings are reserved for only the most extreme weather events, where forecasters expect significant impact and disruption.
“Yet again Westcoasters, those in the Grey and Buller districts and upper South Island, likely face major disruption with a typical month’s rain expected to fall to Thursday evening, [which] brings with it an attendant risk of flooding” said ICNZ chief Tim Grafton. “People should put their safety first, heed the advice of local civil defence, and contact their insurer early if affected.”
While regional and local councils prepared to minimise impact, the ICNZ suggested some things those affected could do to help reduce damage and speed recovery, in addition to acting on the instructions of local authorities.
The ICNZ advised that Westcoasters move their valuables, cars, and electrical items out of reach of potential flood water, ensure that gutters and drains were clear of debris, secure outdoor furniture, barbeques, and other large items in case of high winds, and prepare for power outages.
The ICNZ also reminded those affected to get their claims lodged early, as insurers would aim to fix things as soon as possible while prioritising those most badly affected – such as those with red-stickered homes.
“Contact your insurer early if you suffer flood or storm damage, especially if you need to make emergency repairs, which should only be undertaken if they can be done safely,” Grafton said. “It’s also important to take photos of any damage or items that have been ruined.”
The Buller District – and Westport in particular, which experienced major flooding in July last year and in February this year – has had an especially hard time, Grafton said.
“No matter the outcome, that the West Coast is once again under a red warning is very difficult for all involved,” he said.