Homeowners in Napier and Hastings, already grappling with the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, are now facing the prospect of shouldering the costs of demolishing their category three homes.

The Hastings District Council has revealed plans to ask affected residents to foot the bill, citing inconsistencies in its original buyout policy.

Almost a year post-cyclone, recovery efforts are still underway for some residents.

Esk Valley resident Nicky Dockery has voiced her concerns, emphasising the emotional toll of demolishing her cherished home.

“The hardest part will be demolishing the house, our home,” she said.

However, it seems that the financial burden of demolition may soon fall on category three homeowners like Dockery.

In a policy reversal, the Hastings District Council has informed residents of its proposal to pass on the demolition costs, leaving many feeling blindsided.

Dockery expressed disappointment, saying: “We’re pretty let down actually because we were told in our initial meeting, we have it in writing that they will demolish the house for us.

“They told us they would demolish for us, and now they’re doing this sneaky backtrack work, which is just another blow.”

The Government’s cost-sharing agreement initially left demolition costs to local authorities. The Hastings District Council argues that with some insurance payouts, including a demolition allowance, the burden remains on the council and ratepayers, deeming the current situation inconsistent.

Approximately 90 properties are estimated to be affected by this change, potentially saving the council up to $2 million despite the impact on the affected homeowners.

Nicky Dockery's cyclone-damaged home in Esk Valley.

Hastings Council declined 1News’ interview request, referring to a meeting taking place this Thursday.

In a statement, the council said: “We are seeking to strike the right balance between being fair and reasonable to both impacted property owners and ratepayers.”

Weighing in on the situation, Cyclone Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell said: “It’s unfair when we have a massive storm event, like Cyclone Hale and Cyclone Gabrielle, that comes through and basically rips communities up.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to allow them to move on, resettle, and restart their lives again.”

But for those most affected, it’s slow progress.

“A year on, we haven’t had a valuer here,” Dockery said.

“I thought we were being patient, but if we had yelled and screamed and got a buyout earlier on, we wouldn’t be going through this because all those are signed and sealed.

“They’re not going back to claw back ones that have already been signed and sealed.”

If approved at Thursday’s council meeting, the proposed changes would cover all new buyouts, turning the approval process into a race against the clock for affected residents like Dockery.

“I’ve asked them to hurry up and put it through because, after the first of February, we will have to pay to demo this house, up to $20,000 that they will deduct,” she said.

The looming bill adds another layer of challenge for homeowners who are simply seeking closure and the opportunity to move on from the devastating cyclone aftermath.

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