WelCom August 2021
The wild weather that brought severe flooding to the West Coast and Marlborough and heavy winds and rains to Wellington and the North Island over the weekend of 17–18 July, forced many residents to evacuate their homes and boil drinking water. Many on the West Coast’s flood-ravaged streets are still left without homes. WelCom spoke with St Canice parish priest Fr David Gruschow in Westport.
“On the Saturday night of the flooding our parish’s Phelan Hall was used as an evacuation centre and manned by parishioners who could assist. Some of our parish staff and Sr Luciana dolc helped with all the coming and going. Sr Luciana stayed overnight with about 30 needing accommodation. I couldn’t get to the hall due to the flood waters.
St Canice School too became an evacuation centre for dozens of families. Staff came back from their term holidays and worked tirelessly providing meals and talking with evacuees. They were all exhausted but agreed it was a ‘job well done’.
Everyone here in our community has been working together, which has been lovely.
We have now moved to a recovery phase trying to coordinate food and bedding for people. Our parish has set up a care programme for parishioners in need as we know people personally and can help readily.
Several people unable to get back into their flood-ravaged homes have since found temporary accommodation with family and friends.
Sr Luciana and myself have been going around to visit all the parishioners who might be affected, and offering our help and commiseration.
Authorities are now providing for evacuees to be centralised in one place. A substantial number of houses have been yellow stickered or red stickered and many families won’t be able to return to their homes for several months.
The next phase is getting temporary accommodation for people, which is going to be a critical challenge ahead. Accommodation was already tight before this flood with many people moving into the area for its lifestyle advantages, the environment and the reasonably affordable housing.
Right now, the most useful thing to help people is financial donations. Our parish has a management relief fund underway in addition to the Mayoral relief fund.”
If you wish to help with the St Canice parish Westport relief fund, please contact Fr David Gruschow, at email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ph 027 444 3692.
Alternatively, you can donate money to the Buller Mayoral Relief Fund: bank account number 03-1354-0583471-00; or to the Archdiocese of Wellington: bank account number 02-0536-0003306-13 with code ‘Westport’. The Archdiocese will make sure donations made through the Archdiocese get to people in need. Please email email@example.com if you would like a receipt.