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Coromandel storm: 'Our business has basically stopped dead'

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 10/01/2018

Roadworks on the Thames Coast Road after the flooding last week © RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly Roadworks on the Thames Coast Road after the flooding last week Coromandel's Te Puru should be humming, but local businesses say they're losing customers from road repairs after last week's storm.

Wild weather and a king tide caused widespread flooding in the coastal region around the Firth of Thames, severely damaging State Highway 25.

Cordons on SH25 north of Thames were lifted yesterday evening so light traffic could pass through without convoys, but vehicles over five tonnes are still prohibited between Te Puru and Manaia.

Accommodation providers said business was suffering.

La Casa Lodge owner and manager Christine Borrington said customers have found it hard to navigate the damaged road.

"At the stop and go signs they've had to wait for the escorts which have been up to an hour's wait," she said.

"Local businesses in the area have been affected - the cafe, campgrounds, motels ... we are having cancellations and people now aren't prebooking for this week."

John Tizard, who runs the Seaspray Motel with his wife, agreed.

His motel is right next to the shoreline and sits on the damaged highway between Te Puru and Manaia.

"Our business has basically stopped dead in the water, this is our busiest time of year and we're usually 100 percent full," he said.

"Everybody's worried about getting here and getting back."

The owner of the Te Puru Store and Takeaways, Ming Zhou, said his business has halved.

"We do worry because we do rely a lot on the business," he said.

Mr Zhou said because of the truck restrictions, he has to personally drive out to the Thames town centre himself to pick up supplies every day.

But while businesses want to see the highway back up and running at full capacity as soon as possible, they said the road crews were doing a great job with repairs.

The council said the total number of businesses and properties damaged by the storm has not yet been finalised.

Local Civil Defence controller Steve Fabish has previously told RNZ that about 50 rural properties have been affected.

Rural Support Trust facilitator John Bubb said farmers who have been hit by the storm are upbeat and positive, even though they have some hard decisions ahead.

"There's been some de-stocking where they can, getting stock either to the yard or selling to the works a lot earlier than anticipated," he said.

Mr Bubb said that with the warm temperatures, the salt left behind by the seawater flooding was seriously damaging pastures and farmers needed significant rainfall.

He said any farmers in need of assistance should contact the Rural Support Trust.


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