Northland’s billion-dollar Gabrielle costs to require region’s biggest recovery efforts

Northland's billion-dollar Gabrielle costs to require region's biggest recovery efforts

Northland’s billion-dollar Gabrielle costs to require region’s biggest recovery efforts | Insurance Business New Zealand

Catastrophe & Flood

Northland’s billion-dollar Gabrielle costs to require region’s biggest recovery efforts

Closure of state highway has led to daily economic losses of $1 million

Catastrophe & Flood

Kenneth Araullo

Cyclone Gabrielle has left a significant mark on Northland, leading to a recovery process that is unprecedented in the region’s history. The overall damage is estimated at around $1 billion, impacting both infrastructure and the local economy.

About half of this figure is dedicated to restoring infrastructure in Northland, encompassing extensive repairs to roads and public utilities. Local district roads and state highways experienced damages of $250 million and $170 million, respectively.

According to a report from the RNZ, efforts are also underway to repair essential services like wastewater and stormwater infrastructure in areas including Dargaville and Whangārei, as well as council parks and coastal walkways.

The region’s economy has suffered considerably, with the closure of State Highway 1 over the Brynderwyns for landslide repairs following the cyclone leading to a daily economic loss of $1 million. The agricultural sector, vital to Northland’s economy, has been severely impacted, with 70% of the kumara crop affected and over 150 dairy farmers forced to discard milk.

Doug Nilsson, president of the Northern Wairoa Vegetable Growers Association, reported significant losses in the 2023 kumara crop, which was close to harvest when the cyclone struck. The shortage and subsequent high price of kumara in New Zealand last year were exacerbated by these events.

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Insurance claims related to Cyclone Gabrielle’s household damage in Northland have reached $50 million, with nearly 4000 claims filed. Mark Trudinger, Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Recovery Manager, stated that Cyclone Gabrielle was the most significant event in Te Tai Tokerau in a generation, emphasising the need for rebuilding with resilience against extreme weather.

Progress is being made in the recovery efforts, with over 1,000 of the 1,500 reported slips repaired across Northland. Trudinger noted that the recovery process is a collaborative effort, involving significant contributions from local communities.

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