Owners find ruined cars and waterlogged sites

Business owners in Wakatu Industrial Estate face a major cleanup this week after a wall of water went through their premises.

Properties down the southern end were particularly badly affected, after the creek between Heslops and the freezing works burst its banks.

Seeing the extent of damage in the light of day was heartbreaking for some people.

Brad and Marney Kelling of Brad’s Smash Repairs faced the devastating task this morning of ringing up customers to tell them their cars were probably written off after one metre of water swept through the office and workshop.

“It’s hard for us,” Mr Kelling said. “It’s not just our business, we have got customers that need their cars.” Mr Kelling said one customer had booked a $400-a-night bach for the school holidays and needed the car to get to that holiday. Their car was written off.

The workshop door was pushed in by the force of last night’s flood, which was thigh deep. Parts and motorbike tyres from other businesses had washed into their workshop.

Their courtesy cars were also affected, so they could not lend those to affected customers.

This morning they wanted to get on with the cleanup, but had to wait for insurance assessors before starting.

The Kellings saw the damage last night, after they pleaded with police to be let through the cordon to check their business. Seeing the damage in the light of day this morning was still a shock.

Mr Kelling said three customers’ cars were ready on Saturday, but they had waited until today to pick them up. Now the cars, which prior to the floods had never looked better, were written off.

“The heat gun was still plugged in the wall. Strange how you leave on a Friday never expecting to come back to find this on Monday.”

Grant Sutton of Water Blaster Solutions also had a metre of water through his office and workshop.

All they could do now was clean up as best they could, and take it day by day.

“What do you do?,” he said. “You can only do what you can, and you back your computer up on Friday.”

He was thankful he had backed up his computer and taken paperwork home for the weekend.

Next door a metre of water also went through Skipper’s Choice sauce and dressing office and workshop, damaging stock and ingredients and leaving a sticky coating of mud.

“It’s just a lot of work,” co-owner Clinton Jones said of the cleanup.

Power and phones were out to part of the building. Mr Jones said he hoped to get the factory cleaned up first so they could start making product as soon as possible.

The force of the water was visible at the truck depot a few doors down, where a large orange skip had washed onto a truck, possibly from a neighbouring business 50 metres away.

T D Haulage supervisor Simon Bandy said water had gone over a metre through their four Kenworth Chipliners parked in the depot.

This morning they were waiting to see how damaged they were, and hoping to get back to hauling chip.

“There are four sawmills in Nelson region relying on us to move their chip so they can work. If we are not moving their chip, they are not working.”

A large number of businesses had water through them in the industrial estate, and debris, mud and stones covered the roads.

Pomeroy’s Coffee Factory got off lightly, owner Hayden Thompson said, but next door businesses including Pic’s Peanut Butter factory had water through them.

Mr Thompson was flying into Nelson at the height of the storm and after 90 minutes of circling Nelson the flight was diverted to Blenheim.

Pic’s Peanut Butter maker Craig Dawkins said they only had a few centimetres of water through the factory and were on site cleaning up last night.

However, they still faced a big cleanup and it would be a few days until they could resume production. Fortunately they had a lot of stock on shelves that was undamaged. “You don’t have to worry about Pic’s Peanut Butter doing a Marmite.”

Next door at Viridian Glass the force of the water pushed a 13-metre container three metres. The plant processes glass and much of its robotic machinery was water damaged and thousands of dollars worth of glass was damaged.

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