Flood-hit city faces years of recovery

NELSON, New Zealand (AFP) — A New Zealand city devastated by flooding will take years to recover, the mayor said on Friday, as hundreds more homes were evacuated.

The Pacific nation has been lashed by wild weather with the Nelson-Tasman district on the South Island bearing the brunt after 75 centimeters of rain reportedly fell over three days.

Several streets in the city of Nelson were flooded after the local river, the Maitai, burst its banks.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the damage to roads and the city’s infrastructure will “take years, not months” to repair.

On a visit to witness the damage, New Zealand’s Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty pledged $200,000 ($125,000) of aid and confirmed more than 400 homes have now been evacuated in Nelson, where a state of emergency remains in place.

He added that flooding and landslides have made 60 homes potentially uninhabitable.

Kaitaia, a town near the top of North Island, was cut off by flooding and landslides, and around 400 homes were left without power in the far north.

McAnulty told reporters one of the most striking things he saw was a street on a housing development “where the road had just been washed out, (leaving) a crater deeper than I am tall.”

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