By ROBYN BRISTOW
Cheviot could become the supply town for the rebuild of State Highway One to Kaikoura.
Hurunui District Council chief executive officer Hamish Dobbie says the council is trying to push “the message” that there needed to be a base for the rebuild of the highway and Cheviot was ideally placed to be “that town”.
He has also lent his voice to the call for people to continue to visit Cheviot, Waiau and Hanmer Springs to keep them vibrant and their businesses operating.
He says the district is adjusting to life after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake last week and the majority of the district is “open for business”, even in the worst affected towns, such as Waiau.
A huge effort was being made to keep the Waiau Rural Water Scheme up and running but the infrastructure was pretty munted in places.
A temporary intake was being set up but around four and half kilometres of pipe was “too broken to fix” so pipe would be laid on top of the ground and along temporary crossings across bridges to get the water flowing to residents and farmers.
“We have given up trying to fix the pipe that is broken and are now concentrating on the temporary intake and temporary solutions just to get the water flowing,” he says.
The good news was, however, that a huge amount of help had arrived from local authorities from throughout New Zealand, including the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Thames and Coromandel.
“There has been massive assistance from across the country. It is amazing and councils are not charging,” says Mr Dobbie.
Councils were helping man the operations centre so council staff were free to go out in the field, where around 200 people at any one time were out checking on the welfare of residents, doing housing checks and “making sure people are ok”.
They were also manning sector posts at Waiau and a temporary one in Cheviot.
“There is a huge amount happening out there and we are also providing a little bit of help to our neighbours, Kaikoura,” he says.
Rubbish skips were being provided as far as Goose Bay, even though the Hundalees were a bit “gnarly”, but this was helping with the clean up.
People in the worst affected areas were doing really well and in Waiau, which was hit really badly, people were sticking together, organising and helping themselves, particularly the fire crew which had done some “amazing stuff”.
“The things people are doing to help the Waiau community has been fantastic. It has not been without tears sometimes, but it has all gone fantastically well.”
“I am really proud of the people of Waiau and the way they have responded,” says Mr Dobbie.
The only frustration had been with the Inland Road. Mr Dobbie says the council had around 70 contractors, including local contractors, working to get a track through because of the “importance” to local farmers and to Kaikoura.
Mr Dobbie says he wanted it open Tuesday night but it did not open until Wednesday.
“The Mayor (Winton Dalley) and I went in Wednesday afternoon and talked to a few people up and down the road. They were remarkably resilient.
“Ownership was taken off us and control taken away from us and went to Christchurch and the first thing they did was close it.”
Mr Dobbie says this was frustrating as farmers who wanted to use the road were being prevented from using it.
“They are used to driving farm tracks and used to assessing risks. It was frustrating for everyone, but we have now moved.” Access is still controlled.