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Cyclone Gita: Large-scale devastation now in New Zealand

The damage cyclone Gita has caused to the Thomas Bros' orchard and packing shed is the worst they've ever seen. Kiwi fruit manager Steve Thomas said neither he, his father or his uncle had ever seen a storm cause this much destruction to their family business.

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Gita as well. The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country's apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year's crop. Apple and Pears Inc. chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set-back. "A lot of damage means fruit won't make it to market," he said.

A large part of a Riwaka apple orchard was ruined by floodwaters from Cyclone Gita on Tuesday and the orchardist says the really upsetting part is they won't have another crop for up to seven years. Golden Bay Fruit manager Evan Heywood surveyed one block that's under a sea of mud.

Heywood said that, in the whole rain event, there has fallen about 230 mm, with probably 100 mm of that falling in the three hours at the end of the day after it had been raining all day.

"And that's what has caused this torrent of water that overflowed and the debris that came with it. It was the rivers and creeks that were blocked and then the water spilled out. And the water came over and made a new path straight through here. The really upsetting part is we won't have another crop here for another five, six or seven years, or back to where it was.”

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