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Cost to business 'enormous', banks offer victims help

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Jan 2023, 2:03PM

Cost to business 'enormous', banks offer victims help

Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Jan 2023, 2:03PM

The Auckland floods have wreaked havoc on a stretched business sector, a leader said, while banks have offered victims help with mortgages, loans and overdrafts.

Simon Bridges, Auckland Business Chamber chief executive, said the cost of the damage was hard to grasp so soon after the flooding occurred.

“Understandably, businesses will remain anxious until the flooding subsides. The cost of the deluge – both insured and uninsured – we’re yet to fully grasp, but it will be enormous.

“Hard times will be ahead and we would like to hear how the chamber can be of assistance.

“For some business, the next step is to contact your insurer and get the claim process underway. Flooded carpets, furnishings, and fridge/freezers should be treated as contaminated, and safely disposed of. If electrical wiring in a building or car is potentially affected, get it safely checked out by an electrician.”

He plans to meet Mayor Wayne Brown today to discuss co-operation and relief measures.

"Hard times will be ahead" - Simon Bridges.  Photo /  Mark Mitchell

"Hard times will be ahead" - Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Meanwhile, banks have offered help to flood victims.

“ASB is available to support customers who may require emergency financial assistance as a result of the recent weather events. Emergency assistance can be offered to personal, farming and business customers on a case-by-case basis,” the bank said today.

Customers could potentially suspend home loan principal repayments for up to three months or apply for an overdraft - up to $10,000 for home loan customers and up to $2000 for personal customers.

Other tailored solutions are available depending on customer circumstances.

This includes access to working capital of up to $100,000 for eligible ASB business and rural customers, the bank said.

Customers seeking help can call 0800 803 804.

BNZ has offered a package to customers and businesses. Customers affected by floods can get their mortgage reviewed “on a case-by-case basis” and access temporary personal overdrafts for urgent funds before insurance pay-outs.

Access to temporary overdrafts for agriculture, business, and commercial customers of up to $100,000 with no application fee is on the table too. Temporary overdrafts of up to $10,000 with no application fee for small business customers are also available to BNZ customers.

Westpac announced today it was offering the suspension of principal payments for up to three months on home loans and business loans, deferred payment on business credit cards for up to three months and a temporary overdraft for business customers.

Jo McGregor, acting general manager of consumer banking and wealth, said: “Our branches in Auckland are closed today because properties are being checked for damage, and we’re asking our team members and customers not to make non-essential travel while the forecast remains uncertain. Customers in Auckland needing support should call our contact centre on 0800 400 600”.

Kiwibank is also offering support for customers hit by the floods.

The Insurance Council is telling people to photograph, remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk like saturated carpets and soft furnishings.

“Take photos of any other damaged property to help speed up the assessments and claims process. Mark, and take a photo of where flood water reached its highest within your property. Keep any damaged items that don’t pose a health and safety risk. Do not drive your vehicle if it has suffered water damage,” the council said.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand Captain David Morgan says the airline’s domestic flights in and out of Auckland resumed from midday today.

Morgan, chief operational integrity and safety officer said: “As the airline works to process the backlog of customers and flights, the priority is to get our domestic customers who need to travel urgently to where they need to go. Customers needing to travel can rebook online or via the Air NZ app. Those who don’t have urgent travel are being encouraged to make full use of our flexibility policies”.

While Auckland Airport is scheduled to open its international terminal from 5pm today, there was still a lot of work to do to assess whether flying its scheduled departures tonight is possible.

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