Tasman mayor Tim King says orchardists have been dealt a “devastating blow” after large hail battered the region last night, causing significant damage to crops and local businesses.
King said the “scale of the damage is pretty significant” in Motueka, while the Waimea Plains have also “seen an impact as well”.
He said while the scale of the damage caused by the hail is “a bit early to tell,” several orchards near Motueka have been “very severely affected” and it will likely to have “quite a big impact” on the Motueka economy, as well as the wider region.
It’s expected to take around one week to fully assess the “overall impact” caused by the hail.
King added that while the hail was a “massive blow” to orchardists in the region, the “significant adverse weather event” is “not something that they haven’t dealt with before.”
“It doesn’t make it any easier for them.”
He said many businesses in Motueka have been affected by severe water damage, including to internal waterways. Several commercial buildings have also been "red stickered for structural damage".
One business affected by the hail includes a Liquorland store which saw its roof panels “just start falling in,” a staff member told 1 NEWS.
“The roof just started caving in,” she said. “not a pretty sight.”
She said staff are now working to dry their stock and carpets and “hopefully get the shop up and running as soon as possible”.
“Mother nature - what a way to end the year … This was definitely a way of going out with a bang.”
A local SPCA op-shop was also affected by the weather event, with the hail breaking lighting, ceiling tiles and damaging donated stock.
"We've lost, probably, maybe half of our donated stock, and that's a lot of our donated stock set for winter as well, so we'll be looking for donations to come in from the public," Tasman-Marlborough SPCA team leader Louise Hoover said.
"I was really shocked at how much damage there was."
Council building inspectors, with assistance from local Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel, have since inspected 20 commercial and residential buildings, a Tasman District Council spokesperson told 1 NEWS.
Section 124 notices were issued to three commercial buildings amid structural damage caused by the event. Other houses and buildings suffered water and electrical damage.
King said the wider community has had a “surprisingly remarkable year, despite Covid, so this is a really devastating blow at this time of the year”.
“I just really hope that the Motueka community, particularly, pools together, as we have done so many times before, and works through this, supports the horticulture industry and all the other businesses that have been affected over the last 24 hours.”