The weekend of 30 May 2021 saw the Canterbury region battle some of the worst floods in living memory, causing widespread damage to property and homes across the region. Up to 550cm of rain fell within 48 hours!

By Sunday afternoon, a State of emergency had been declared and over 250 homes and properties evacuated due to the risk of rising waters and continual heavy rain.

Ashburton River bridge looking upstream to the rail bridge on May. 30

Days later, farmers near burst stop banks in Mid Canterbury are beginning to find out the “devastating” costs of the hugely damaging floods.

One resident said the floodwaters had taken “basically everything”, so even calculation the damage was a daunting task.

Receding floodwaters have revealed piled-up debris, damage to farm roads and fences, and waterlogged winter feed, buildings and machinery and not to mention the loss of stock that farmers are yet to find out.

As local resident and team leader of RRT Ashburton, witnessing the devastating impact of the flood, Bruce Mascull was only too “pleased to donate some food boxes to rural communities hit by the floods.”

Example of box of goodies delivered at doors of flood stricken farmers in the Mid-Canterbury region.

After contacting Allan Baird, Response Coordinator for Rural Support Mid Canterbury, RRT volunteers were soon filling ‘feel-good’ food boxes. The boxes were slightly different to standard RRT food boxes, containing biscuits, chocolates, chips, dip and treats for the kids.

RRT team leader Bruce Mascull (left) hands over food boxes to Canterbury Rural Support teams.

Teams from Mid Canterbury Rural Support were out doing door to door surveys to access the extent of damage caused to farmers, their property, and livestock around the region. Allan said “when you’re out and knock at the door and start asking questions, its nice to actually have something to give them and that’s what we’re doing with these food boxes. It’s also a feel-good thing for the farmers themselves.”

Rural communities were heartened by the response and overwhelmed to receive such a gift.

Allans concluding comments were “Its just a lift – they’re really under stress these people at the moment, something to give them a bit of a lift and brighten their day.”

On Monday morning 1st June, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern surveyed the damage to the Canterbury region by air.  “It is quite devastating, there is a lot of work to do. A big clean up job lies ahead of us,” she said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to reporters.

The following day the Government has released an initial $500,000 in relief funding for affected farmers and growers and says it will assess whether more is needed in coming days.

The three words, Community, Compassion and Support summarise how the Rapid Relief Team respond to incidents like these. Our heartfelt sympathies extend to those effected by this natural disaster and wish for a quick recovery and getting back up and operational as quickly as possible.

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