The long road to recovery

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By David Hill

Natural hazards, earthquake recovery and the Covid-19 lockdown were discussed at last Thursday’s Kaikoura District Council meeting.

Mayor Craig Mackle says natural hazards are continuing to create some headaches as the recovery from the 2016 earthquake continues and the council looks to update the District Plan.

The earthquake created landslips in the hills, which remain vulnerable to weather events, and created new flood zones, he says.

“The big unknown is when the stuff actually comes out off the hills. While the work is continuing on the roads, the equipment is there ready to go to maintain it, but when that work stops the challenge will be keeping on top of it.

“Whenever there’s a weather event, or a northwesterly wind, there’s slips off the hills and it’s got to go somewhere, whether that’s on to the roads or putting the river beds up,” says Mr Mackle.

There are also new questions being asked of where it is appropriate to build and not to, the level of risk and what steps are practical to mitigate against that risk.

Work on the roads has been suspended by North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR), with workers returning home during the lockdown, leaving the earthquake village virtually empty.

However some of the workers are on standby to return in case of a weather event, he says.

The lockdown could lead to the NCTIR work being extended beyond the planned December completion date, which could be a saving grace for Kaikoura, with the borders likely to be closed to international tourists for some months to come.

“We are in for a hard road going forward,” says Mr Mackle.