Waiariki clean up begins post cyclone

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

The aftermath of Cyclone Cook has left 15,000 customers in the Hawkes Bay without power. Drinking water and water waste systems in Whakatāne have been seriously affected and the majority of the Central North Island have road blockages caused by fallen trees and power poles, but spirits are still high as Edgecumbe residents are now able to move back into their homes and the clean-up begins.

A long-awaited return home for Edgecumbe residents

East Coast MP Anne Tolley told Te Kāea, “All these people are being able to go back into their homes. Most of them are able to go back in and stay although most of them there’s still intimidate power and there’s no surface but they’re just pleased to go home so they’re really happy.”

Residents from 216 properties in the south-western area of Edgecumbe will be able to go home this afternoon. However, 42 homes have suffered significant internal flood damage. People living in those homes will have temporary access today to pick up essential items and assess the damage.

“It was mainly some flooding but in the other part of town close to where the stop bank breached the force of the water coming through there has done incredible damage and you really have to see it to believe it. Houses completely shifted off their foundations I was talking to someone who had the freezer out of their home go through the wall and into the neighbour’s property.”

The state of emergency for the wider Bay of Plenty region has been lifted but a state of emergency remains in Whakatāne district.

Edgecumbe Mayor Tony Bonne says, “Because of the pressures and the stresses we've got here in Edgecumbe we've re-ensnared the civil defence of urgency for the Whakatane district which covers Edgecumbe and remembers we have Ruatāhuna which is still isolated and currently isolated with no power so we do have our hinterlands are still major problems.”

Minister Tolley says volunteers and Civil Defence are working tirelessly trying to restore the town back to its original state.

“The sense of volunteerism here is absolutely overwhelming and I’ve just been talking to a chap who's been sitting over in the gazebo helping with the information. His house is what they call in the red zone it’s completely destroyed. He said but he can’t do anything else but he wants to come down and help others who are able to get into their houses.”

Edgecumbe Mayor says that they know now how to prepare for big storms like this and now is the time to strengthen Edgecumbe.

“Houses are going to have to be completely rebuilt and for some it’s a big drying out effort maybe three to four months before they can even start to think about repairing their houses for much of the community and the big portion we're seeing here today they can pick up the threads of their lives and get back on with their life in their homes.”

Even though the region has been struck by disaster in the last couple of weeks there is a great sense of community.