Realism urged in rebuild
It will take 600 tonnes of rock and cost about $35,000 to repair the sea wall at Ruby Bay, which took a hammering in a storm that hit the district on February 1.
However, in an at-times fractious meeting at the Mapua Community Hall on Tuesday evening, Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne and some council staff were told by some residents that the wall was not good enough. Those residents called for a better wall.
The combination of a king tide and a storm surge from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Fehi brought the sea crashing onto land across the Nelson-Tasman region on February 1.
Low-lying Ruby Bay was badly hit and many people were evacuated from their flooded homes.
It was standing room only at the hall on Tuesday when Kempthorne and his team outlined options for rebuilding the damaged council sections of the wall. There are also some private sea walls along the coast.
Council recovery manager Adrian Humphries provided a brief history of the three sections of wall for which there are resource consents until 2044.
He also said a survey would be made so the council could assess the effectiveness and suitability of the existing structures and identify work that could be completed within the parameters of the existing resource consents.
If the residents wanted a modified wall, there were a ‘‘few hurdles’’ in the way.
‘‘First off, you need a resource consent and that’s not guaranteed because a lot of people just think we should let the sea do its thing,’’ Humphries said.
However, if the consent was granted, the work might result in people on the seafront losing some land. The financing would also have to be identified.
When a member of the audience suggested the council charge more across the district, Humphries responded: ‘‘You’ve got to convince a ratepayer in Tapawera to pay for a sea wall in Ruby Bay.’’
Kempthorne urged people to be ‘‘realistic’’.
‘‘There’s a lot of angst here and that’s understandable but the reality is if you expect all the ratepayers in the district to pay for rock protection that benefits primarily certain people, then the likelihood of that getting through the council with support is not great,’’ the mayor said.
Some people raised concern about aspects of the emergency response on the day.
Humphries said many people were volunteers or had civil defence duties on top of their regular jobs.
‘‘So they’re under pressure; they’ve only got so much time,’’ he said. ‘‘I appreciate it was disjointed on the day and that’s something that we’ve learnt from but it’s the reality.’’
One person was missed in a house on Tait St, which was ‘‘unfortunate’’.
‘‘So that means that we need to do some additional training with some of our responders,’’ Humphries said. ‘‘We’re not perfect; we’re human beings.’’
In response to queries about whether there could have been more warning, Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management group controller Roger Ball said the storm was forecast for several days previously.
‘‘But I think, what caught a lot of people by surprise is what I call the trifecta – that really deep low, those very high winds on top of the king tide. Could it have been predicted? Hindsight’s a wonderful thing.’’
He encouraged the residents to sign up to receive MetService warnings.
Philip Marshall, left and Pete Archibald of band Cruise Control perform at the Nelson Wine and Food Festival in 2017.
It was standing room only at a meeting for storm-affected residents in Mapua on Tuesday evening.