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Future remains uncertain for Bluecliffs community

The Southland App

18 March 2024, 5:40 PM

Future remains uncertain for Bluecliffs communityBluecliffs community. Photo: Emergency Management Southland

The long term future for Bluecliffs residents remains uncertain as their community moves from a State of Emergency to a Transition to Recovery.


LISTEN TO EMS CONTROLLER PAUL LE ROUX


The new declaration, signed yesterday (18 Mar) by Southland District (SDC) Mayor Rob Scott, ensures that the lead agency - Emergency Management Southland (EMS) - and the SDC and Environment Southland (ES) continue to support the community for at least another 28 days.


The local emergency was declared over 5 weeks ago (8 Feb) after significant and rapid coastal erosion put both resident's homes and an old community dump at risk of going into the sea.



Since then EMS, the SDC and ES have attempted to rectify the situation by not only shifting more than 300,000 cubic metres of gravel from the bar in front of the mouth of the local Waiau River, to create a new outlet to the sea, but also relocating around 1100 tonnes of material from the old dump site.


The government also came to the party with Environment Minister Penny Simmonds allocating $1.35 million to the project.


SDC Mayor Rob Scott said while the work on clearing the tip was going well and ahead of schedule, he conceded the opening of the bar hadn't worked.



"Part of the issue of the mouth not opening I think was we didn't have enough flow coming through.... when we needed it."


"We thought we would be able to get the flow lining up a lot easier than we managed to."


Scott said an independent report due later this week, or early next week, would indicate whether it was viable to "have another crack" at opening the bar.



"Nothing is off the table at the moment."


But he admitted "even if we do get a second mouth opening, and it's successful, we don't know how long that's going to last for."


"We've seen the level of erosion that can occur in a very short amount of time."



"No one has ever really taken on Mother Nature and won."


"We also have to be realistic with what's ahead of us, especially in the long term."


Scott said he knew of some residents who had started planning to move homes to the front of their properties or away from the area.



“This is a positive move, and they should continue to finalise these plans while the work to clear the dump material is underway,” he said.


Scott said it was important to understand the transition to the recovery phase shouldn't be seen as stepping away from the emergency.


"It just means that we're moving from reacting to the state of emergency that we found ourselves in, to taking more of a proactive approach."



He said a dedicated recovery manager and team of people would be working to readdressing the mouth and also take a longer term view of what to do around the properties.


"Long term, we're going to have to look at different options," Scott said.



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