After a devastating winter for the Canterbury region with major flooding, COVID-19 restrictions and more, FMG client Crispin Deans has shown what it means to be resilient.

The Canterbury Floods in May/June this year devastated the region with FMG processing over 600 claims following the event. One of those clients was the Deans family at the historic Homebush farm home to Crispin Deans, his wife Fleur and their two girls. Homebush has been in the family since two brothers, William and John Deans arrived from Scotland in the early 1840s.

Homebush is a working sheep and cattle farm of 1350 acres with 250 acres in trees. The old historic homestead contains a museum filled with mementos and curios from the last 180 years.

When the floods came in May, Crispin describes the destruction they brought as “terrifying” and the aftermath “soul-destroying”.

“The scary bit was the way the rivers performed, they didn’t drain as they had in the past which meant we had water backing up towards us very rapidly and going into places it doesn’t normally go.”

He says the worst storms always come at night, and the following dawn is a daunting time, when the full extent of the damage becomes apparent.

“On the morning of June 1, the amount of fencing lost coupled with the destruction of two key bridges meant we had to prioritise our efforts. We saw years of work destroyed, which when added to the new work, meant our plans and strategies were now redundant. “

Crispin says the uncertainty was difficult, not knowing how bad it was going to get.

He was on the phone to FMG first thing the morning after the floods. “From then until the claims were settled, we had a great all-around experience. When the assessor came down, he was efficient and thorough but most importantly he stood by what he said and did what he committed to do. The focus on outcomes was very clear.”

“Our historic stables which house the museum were flooded with water waist deep high in one area. FMG immediately organised excellent contractors to come out and undertake cleaning and remedial work. Being able to leave an element of the clean-up in someone else’s capable hands was a real relief.”

Crispin says the best part of the claims experience was the acknowledgment the farm couldn’t wait for the insurance assessment to be completed.

“The day after the floods the lessee was due to move animals onto their winter feed and this was impossible without proper fences and most of all good power to electric fences. FMG agreed these fences needed to be fixed fast and the work was done to restore power; this didn’t impact our ability to claim insurance as we had good before and after photos. This meant that animals were in good feed and secure not long after the flood went through.”

The loss of the bridge on the main farm access was a major issue. Three families used the bridge daily and it was also the main accessway for contractors and other workers. Trying to manage a secondary farm track proved difficult but Crispin says it was something they managed well.

“With the support of some great people we managed to get the bridge rebuilt temporarily within weeks, however days after we re-opened another flood came and caused further damage. This was challenging but we elected to wait until we were better prepared before we completed further repairs.”

Crispin says insurance plays an important role in his business. “We’re always challenged by circumstances outside of our control. Insurance gives us the ability to manage those challenges without impacting our long-term vision for the property too much.”

He says it’s been a brutal winter for country people in Canterbury with confidence ebbing to a very low point due to the weather, COVID-19 restrictions as well as the recent sad passing of a hugely respected local farmer.

“What has kept everyone going is the fantastic way the community supports one another. We’ve been deeply touched by all the offers of help we’ve had following the floods and more recently the windstorms and we know our friends and neighbours feel the same.”

Crispin says the importance of having organisations such as FMG providing an additional layer of support and understanding comes to the fore in major events like these. “Now as always, we will keep looking to the future and moving towards it, but we do need some time for rest and reflection which hopefully will come this summer.”