The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has decided to initiate the buyout of 287 properties in Hastings and Napier that were severely damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle, making them unsafe for habitation. This decision progresses these properties from their temporary ‘Category 3’ status to ‘final’, allowing the buyout process to commence.
Hinewai Ormsby, the Chairperson of the Regional Council, mentioned that this decision marks a significant advance in the region’s post-cyclone recovery. She empathized with the challenges that the flood-affected communities have endured and expressed her pleasure in offering a clearer path forward for numerous homeowners.
Following this, the task of executing the buyouts will be taken over by the councils of Hastings District and Napier City. They have recently approved voluntary buyout policies, which include setting up a dedicated office to guide property owners contemplating the buyout offers. This facility is expected to be operational by 24 October.
Sandra Hazlehurst, Mayor of Hastings, conveyed her hopes that these buyouts would offer cyclone-affected residents a chance to move forward from the tragedy. The approach is aimed at giving clarity and facilitating decision-making for those who faced the worst of Cyclone Gabrielle’s wrath.
However, a section of homeowners still face uncertainty regarding their properties’ futures. Nic Peet, the Regional Council’s Chief Executive, recognized the ambiguities surrounding properties in provisional Category 2 areas. He reassured residents that efforts are ongoing to develop solutions as soon as possible.
As of 3 October, the recent categorization of properties in the Hawke’s Bay region includes various provisional and confirmed categories, signifying the risk and potential measures required to make them safe.
- Category 2P: Homes need specific adjustments, like elevation or enhanced drainage.
- Category 2C: Requires community-level flood protection, like stop banks, for safe habitation.
- Category 2A: Potential reclassification after further evaluation.
- Category 3: Properties have a high risk to life during extreme weather events and are unsafe to live in.