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Major floods in New Zealand could be the 'new norm', expert says

The flooding experienced in Buller and Marlborough over the weekend could be the "new norm" for New Zealand, an expert says.

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University of Auckland’s Asaad Shamseldin says big floods in NZ could be the “new norm”. Source: Breakfast

Associate Professor Asaad Shamseldin, from the University of Auckland's Civil and Environmental Engineering department, told Breakfast the flooding was a result of climate change and it could be the "new norm". 

Shamseldin's comments come after the West Coast and Buller saw upwards of 250mm of rain fall in the 24-hour period leading up to Saturday afternoon.

This led to widespread flooding, which forced many to leave their homes.

The Government has set aside $600,000 to help those affected by the floods.

Aerial footage of the flooding in Westport, on the West Coast. Source: Peter Meecham

Shamseldin also explained big floods were magnified by land use changes, but people had become more accepting of extreme weather being attributed to climate change, than just acts of God. 

He said people needed to be prepared for such weather events, due to the damage it can cause to homes and infrastructure.

An aerial image of flooding across Buller, photographed by Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine. Source: Jamie Cleine

"It is very devastating to the community as it causes disruption." 

In order to be prepared, Shamseldin said risks needed to be reassessed and a "very serious conversation" needed to be had around what risk is acceptable. 

Mitigating the impacts of flooding could include warnings, stop banks, raising the floor level of houses and relocation. 

He said his basic message was communities needed to be prepared for such events.

"We have to be prepared for the future and use the past to do so."

Source: 1 NEWS

The "fairest" way to do this was to define "acceptable risk", which would be a conversation for communities and the Government to have, in order to plan.