Wellington: The New Zealand government will provide NZ$15 million ($9 million) in the short term to local councils to remove rubbish left by cyclone Gabrielle, the country’s biggest natural disaster seen in this century, which killed 11 people.
While the funding is to assist local authorities to remove and dispose of residential solid waste between February 13 and June 30, a long-term approach to waste management is being developed, after the cyclone lashed the North Island last month, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said on Thursday.
“Several regions are facing significant costs associated with residential waste removal, which has the potential to become a public health and environmental risk,” McAnulty said, adding some local councils don’t have the financial capacity to deal with the situation, reports Xinhua news agency.
This additional funding will go to the urgent collection, removal, and disposal of solid waste caused by cyclone Gabrielle from residential properties.
In many areas, the next steps of recovery cannot begin until rubbish is properly disposed of, the Minister said, adding it has been a hard time due to the impacts of the cyclone.
Also on Thursday, the government announced NZ$17.5 million to further support communities and community providers impacted by cyclone Gabrielle, and the streamlining of application processes to support a faster and smarter response and recovery.
The next phase will see further support for community food providers in affected regions and bulk purchasing of food for distribution.
This will support providers to meet demand for food assistance in their communities, and will mean providers are less likely to be putting extra strain on already stretched supermarkets, said Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni.
About 10,000 people have been displaced by the adverse event, the level of which New Zealand has not seen since the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, authorities said.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the cost of the recovery is estimated to be about NZ$13 billion.
New Zealand’s resilience is being tested like never before, Hipkins said.
“Lives have been turned upside down, many people have seen their homes and all of their possessions completely destroyed. Countless others have been displaced,” he said.