Edgecumbe, the after effects of devastating flood

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Driving through flooded area. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The recent flooding of Edgecumbe has been devastating. Now the trauma of the experience is being realised.

As one farmer helping with the rescue told Stuff: “It’s [flood water level] pretty high, its level with the stock truck I’m towing – The stock truck now carries human cargo with people very grateful for his assistance. It’s just what you do when people are in trouble,” he said. “The hard part is people don’t want to go.”

He also told Stuff it is not clear how much longer he can make trips as the water level continues to rise. “It was coming up to the wheels. That’s about 5 foot deep,” he said. “An ordinary tractor would not be able to do it but this JCB has a high air intake.”

With the waters now receding, people-power is now the focus. With hundreds of homes needing to be cleared – man, woman, and children-power are now needed most. Many homes not only needing to be cleared, they need to be gutted: sodden mattresses, white-ware from the microwave to the fridge/freezer, manchester – rotten from being soaked for days, wardrobes full of clothes and seasonal belongings.

That sort of work cannot be done by machines, it needs the coordinated cooperative approach that only a community of outward thinking and motivated people can give, sensitive to the trauma of the occupants.

The effect of the Rangitaiki river bursting had a far-reaching consequence for the 1600 plus people who were swamped and forced to flee at very short notice. Some closest to the rivers concrete reinforcing wall managed to only grab their kids and go. Pets had to fend for themselves.

Like everything, it takes time, resources and finances to swing such a massive rescue operation into action.

The avenues of assistance coming into effect range from the local surrounding communities and sports groups to the official Task Force Green teams and the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust.

The police and civil services are actively stepping up their help and coordination with the Edgecumbe community and leaders.

Local reps and the Whakanani emergency response team are working together to meet with and give frustrated residents evacuated from their homes a more transparent awareness of services available. These services include police patrols, temporary accommodation, interim heath centre and pharmacy and insurance advisers to give a face to organisations, helping them put their lives back together.

The NZDF in sending in 23 more defense personnel to help man the cordons surrounding the town. These defense personnel are backed by trucks and other vehicles as a part of the ongoing promise of rolling assistance in the face of the declared states of emergencies by the Bay of Plenty towns.

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