Farmers in the North Canterbury area of Sheffield have been forced to abandon their homes due to the increasing flood. Video / Hamish Clark
Farmers near the exploded shutdowns in central Canterbury are beginning to discover the “devastating” costs of the extremely damaging floods.
Receding floodwaters revealed piled debris, damage to farm roads and fences, as well as winter food, waterlogged buildings and machinery.
One of the hardest hit is the Rooney family, who saw the Ashburton River forge a new path through their Methven Highway dairy farm, where five generations have lived and worked.
Philly Rooney said the floodwaters had taken “pretty much everything” so even calculating the damage was a daunting task.
“The winter foods are all gone. The straw is all in ruins. The fences are gone. I don’t know if we lost any cows or not,” she said.
“It’s just a huge amount of damage. It’s going to be a huge cleanup of branches, mud, everything. It’s terrible.”
Until yesterday afternoon, when a friend drove them home by helicopter, the Rooney’s were unsure whether their house by the river had been flooded or whether their Great Dane, in the garage, had survived.
They confirmed their belongings and the dog was fine, but found the house to be damp and “messy”.
Meanwhile, half of the farm remains underwater and Laurence Rooney can only cover part of the way in her tractor.
He discovered flooding in his beer shed and damage to his workshop, and an outdoor playground is now covered in stones carried over a hundred yards from the riverbed.
Before the clean-up could begin, Philly Rooney said her priority was to get 200 cows and a number of bulls to safety on leased land up the road as soon as floodwaters permitted.
“Our heifers, as soon as we can take them for a walk, will go to a neighbor’s in a truck and up there. And we have jersey bulls that a guy said he would take for us, so it’s very convenient. “
Meanwhile on the road, at another place where the river has crossed the stopbank, is a farm owned by Laurence’s brother, Henry Rooney.
His house survived, but over 80% of his farm was also submerged.
This means that the silage is in ruins, that the roads, driveways and fences around the farm need to be replaced, and he has also started to move stocks to leased land on the road.
Yesterday afternoon, he was about to launch into repair mode.
“We have to let the water escape first, and during that time I will talk to my agricultural advisor and my insurance broker and present the main plan of what we are going to do,” he said. he declares.
“So I guess I’ll just pick up whatever was carried here [by the river]. And go to my neighbors, collect everything that was washed there. “
Henry Rooney predicted that it would take at least a week for all the water to drain off his farm.
Getting closer and closer is one of the busiest times of the year.
“The only thing that really worries me is calving in eight weeks. I just can’t see us getting shuffled and ready,” he says.
“If the water was gone now, it would be too wet and soggy to take machines there – you know, there would be holes you could fall in, because the water rips everything apart.”
Henry Rooney said one of the bright spots was the warmth and support from neighbors and the wider Mid Canterbury community.
He was also encouraged by the swift response from Fonterra and local authorities who assessed the damage.
The government has released an initial $ 500,000 in relief funds for affected farmers and producers and says it will assess whether more is needed in the coming days.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-01 18:37:06