It’s been a rough start to the year for those of us in the Queenstown district and in fact all over the south.
As rain hammered the lower south roads were closed, people evacuated and a lot of damage done throughout Southland and Otago.
The State Highways south of Queenstown were shut for a couple of days as flooding over ran where the roads should have been.
Glenorchy felt the full force of the rain as the road in was closed and the Rees River overtopped in to the flood zone.
Luckily those affected had self-evacuated before this had occurred.
The local fire crew did a fantastic job here in supporting these people, as did the entire community, as people offered help in many ways.
We’re lucky to have such wonderful people living here in our community.
In times of disaster that is when our true community spirit shines here in the south, evident in what occurred in Glenorchy.
While the water is gone for now, the real work begins as people go in to recovery mode.
Our tourism sector is also incurring various challenges at present with Coronavirus causing many visitors to put their holidays on hold.
It is evident the number of tourists visiting our town has dropped this summer period.
Some operators have informed me they have had cancellations of bookings which were scheduled for the next few months.
This accompanied with the damage to Milford Road means our tourism industry in the south is taking huge hits.
This Government needs to be doing more to get it open.
While it was good the Conservation Minister flew over Fiordland recently to view the damage, locals want to see earthworks happening on the ground rather than politicians in the sky.
This Government is missing in action in Fiordland.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford should be pumping extra resource in to NZTA to get a repair plan and timeline sorted as soon as possible.
While there is no confirmed date for when the road will reopen, people can still access Milford via plane in the interim.
I’m also lobbying the Minister to allow concessions issued for Milford Sound to be transferred to Doubtful Sound until normal operations resume to ensure the tourism operators don’t go broke.
Our economy is suffering from all of these challenges.
Each day the road is closed in to Milford, the local economy is losing about $1.5 million.
Milford Road should be a Government priority so we can get our tourism operators back up and running as normal as soon as possible.