Kaiaua community spirit eases pain
It seems to be the first two words that spring to mind when Kaiaua residents are asked what they most enjoy about the town.
They stick beside each other when push comes to shove and they won’t let anything dampen their spirits, not even when they were struck with flood waters as a result of a storm that swept through the costal town on January 5.
Pink Shop owner Lynn Yeager has been living in Kaiaua for 23 years and has owned the shop for the past 14. Her business has been severely flooded three times since, but not once has she thought about selling up - she’s too proud.
‘‘Never. Nah, I wouldn’t do that - I’m not a quitter,’’ she said.
The storm is a topic the Kaiaua residents choose to brush off. They’d rather get on with the job of repair. And help each other.
‘‘We’re talking about floods again,’’ Yeager said to one of her customer who responded with a resentful, ‘‘Oh, are we?’’
He helped Yeager when her shop was inundated with water. He drove in his front loader tractor and started clearing out the debris that was left behind, but he wasn’t the only one.
‘‘There is lots of community support and certainly from people that know the Pink Shop from outside Kaiaua who have commented and come into the shop to show their support,’’ said Yeager.
When the deluge swept through her shop, she lost all of her stock and her freezers were water damaged. She estimated to have lost around $50,000 in the disaster.
Tip Top gave her two freezers and two kind locals donated another two to keep her going until her insurance company pays her out so she can buy her own. But she’s not holding her breath.
‘‘I still haven’t been paid out for the last flooding [in March last year],’’ said Yeager.
‘‘We are going though, we’re going okay.’’
Another Kaiaua resident Bonnie Campbell, who has been living in the coastal community since 1983, is also grateful for the community’s support.
She lost everything after the storm, including all of her late husband’s belongings.
‘‘It’s all gone - thrown away,’’ said Campbell.
But she’s not prepared to leave just yet. She loves the people, the security and the scenery in Kaiaua.
‘‘Oh, the community has been very good,’’ said Campbell.
A disaster relief fund was also set up to assist family and homeowners that were in desperate need of help. The fund had raised more than $40,000 and applications closed March 31.
Nineteen applications have been received. Three have been approved and paid out, and the trustees will meet this week to consider the remaining 16.
Hauraki District Council Mayor John Tregidga said he was proud of the town’s strength.
‘‘The one positive thing among all the stress and trauma of a devastating event like this is the community spirit that often emerges, especially in smaller rural communities,’’ said Tregidga.
‘‘People opened up their homes and businesses, raised funds, and generally just rolled up their sleeves and chipped in where they could to help others. It was incredibly heartening to see.’’
The Hauraki District Council has also agreed to pay or waive up to $2000 in building consent fees for those at risk of flooding who wish to lift their buildings. The offer is open to all owners of affected properties.
The council has budgeted for approximately 10 consent applications per year.
Tidal surge from the January storm caused significant damage to approximately 12 homes, moderate damage to 72 homes, while 157 homes were mildly affected.
‘‘While acknowledging that the after effects of this event are still very real and stressful for some people, overall I think the community is stronger than ever,’’ Tregidga said.
Lynn Yeager said that if it wasn’t for the community, the Pink Shop may have shut its doors for the last time.
Kaiaua’s Pink Shop can continue serving up Kaiaua’s best, and only coffee thanks to community support.