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Helping flood-stricken Southland

  • March 13, 2020
  • 2 min read

The Southland floods left farmers with a big clean up – it’s taken a group effort to support them.

February’s Southland floods will forever be etched in the minds of Southlanders, farmers and their communities as the worst flooding to strike the region for over 30 years.  

As the water subsided, it was clear that there was a big clean-up ahead for farmers, but not something they would have to face alone. The clean-up was a true show of resilience as people across the Co-op came together to make sure our farmers were supported.

Employees and farmers alike were quick to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with recovery efforts in order to get farms back up and running. During the initial response they worked alongside emergency services activities to support farmers and rural communities.

Head of Farm Source Southland/Otago, Mark Robinson says the efforts of the Southland community was something to be immensely proud of.

“The teams on the ground were busy helping farmers clean up the mess and get their farms going again, as well as assessing the overall damage to understand what ongoing support that may be needed.”

To continue this support Fonterra’s Farm Source and Edendale’s site Emergency response team (ERT) were coordinated out onto farms. 

Despite the devastation and pressure it put on everyone, it’s been humbling to witness the response from Fonterra and the community as a whole.

Mark Robinson, Head of Farm Source Southland/Otago

 “We wanted to continue the support for a number of weeks to ensure none of our famers or their neighbours were missed or forgotten during the recovery,” says Mark.

Working together the teams hit the ground running on farms across Southland.

“The teams were out working hard to help farmers clear debris and repair fences in order to get farms fully operational again.”

“Despite the devastation and pressure it put on everyone, it’s been humbling to witness the response from Fonterra and the community as a whole,” says Mark.

Scott Cameron Edendale’s site ERT coordinator echoes Mark’s thoughts.

“From clearing lanes and cow sheds through to removing rubbish from tree lines, it was a collective effort and for the teams improving someone else’s day was top of mind,” says Scott.  

The little things also made the difference for Gore dairy farmer Paul Clement, he says the moral support he received from his Area Manager Nadine Duff and Technical Sales Representative Shannon Topp went above and beyond.  

“After the floods Nadine and Shannon brought over some home baking to cheer us up. Coming out to have a chat and to know that everyone had been thinking of us made our day,” says Paul.

Nadine and Shannon returned the following week with a team of seven who were at the ready to clear fences and pull up wires on the farm.

“’What would have taken a week or more for the Clements to clear alone, was cleared by the team in a day,” says Mark.  

The resilience of Fonterra’s farmers, employees and the community in wake of the Southland floods was remarkable. The clean-up efforts are testament that when our teams come together, we can make good things happen.