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New Zealand govt provides more support to flood-hit regions

Wellington, Feb 2 (IANS) The New Zealand government is unlocking an additional NZ$700,000 ($456,515) in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island, including the country’s largest city of Auckland.

Enhanced Taskforce Green has been activated to help with flood relief efforts, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said on Thursday.

A total of NZ$500,000 is being made available to provide unskilled and semi-skilled jobs for local people who will support farmers, growers, and communities by completing clean-up work on their properties, Xinhua news agency reported citing Sepuloni as saying.

“The damage to farms, homes, roads, and bridges across the regions affected is extensive and no doubt will take a long time to be fully assessed. By making this funding available, local councils and other authorized agencies can hire job seekers to help,” she said.

“Some areas have recorded unprecedented amounts of rain, which has flooded farmland, damaged infrastructure, and washed away some crops,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

The record rainfall comes on top of what has been a challenging and wet season for many in the upper North Island, which compounds the stress for people, O’Connor said.

Funding of NZ$200,000 will be allocated to Rural Support Trusts who know their communities and what support is required to help people through, Sepuloni said.

This targeted funding for the clean-up and rural communities is on top of the more than NZ$1 million the government has already provided to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland, said Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty.

Record rainfall from January 27-28 in Auckland caused massive flooding across the city.

The record rainfall has caused massive flooding to houses and properties, claiming four people’s lives and forcing the closure of state highways and the Auckland Airport, with the state of emergency declared by the government.