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Recovery plan ready

Thursday 4 March 2010 | Published in Regional

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The Aitutaki cyclone recovery plan is due to be approved by cabinet and its contents revealed today by minister Wilkie Rasmussen.

According to a ‘draft Aitutaki Domestic Housing Policy’ leaked to CI News, government is looking at both a low cost and a high cost option for its housing project under the recovery plan.

Cost estimates in the draft policy put the low cost option at $3.6 million to $4.7 million, and the high cost option at up to $6.7 million.

Rasmussen told CI News yesterday that New Zealand aid will likely cover the majority of the assistance package, especially in damage category three and four which are the homes with over 50 percent damage and those completely destroyed.

The finance minister said it was likely that half a million dollars in government funding would go towards the first two house damage categories – the minor damage and the damage of up to 50 percent of the home.

Mostly consisting of ‘light repairs’, these two categories apply to over 100 homes in Aitutaki and Rasmussen says much of the cost of work already carried out on them will be able to be reimbursed by government.

The housing project is likely to be carried out on a grants basis – from a possible $2000-$5000 grant for minor damage repair, to a grant of possibly up to $10,000 for repairs to roof, walls, electrical wiring , plumbing and temporary power connection for homes in category two, to the priority category four $35,000 grant for a basic kitset home.

Rasmussen confirmed that government is likely to contract a project manager to oversee the housing project and that the ministry of finance and his staff would retain control of the finances.

While Habitat for Humanity NZ has offered to send hundreds of volunteers to help, the minister says he also wants to see Aitutaki and Rarotonga building contractors get work from the housing project.

In the draft plan which was dated a week ago, a basic home design would have to be put to the Aitutaki community before the total costs of the project could be refined.

According to the draft policy, the Red Cross assessment found that 88 homes were completely destroyed in the cyclone. The island has between 300 and 320 residential properties.

“I think it’s workable,” says the minister of the overall recovery plan.

Rasmussen says other forms of assistance under the recovery plan should also be announced this week.

The minister plans to go to Aitutaki either today or tomorrow to announce the full plan to the people.