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More returning home but be vigilant on weather

Media statement from Whakatāne District Council #18 - 1230hrs – April 2017

More returning home but be vigilant on weather

Good progress has been made on getting Edgecumbe residents back home today. But residents who have been able to return are being urged to remain vigilant as there are warnings of more heavy rain to come which could have an impact on the wider Bay of Plenty.

From this morning, more people were able to return to their homes in north Edgecumbe - College Road north of Rata Avenue. That involves 130 homes. Access has been from West Bank Road. Wastewater, water and power are due to be back on in this area this morning but residents are asked to use sparingly.

Yesterday residents with properties in the south-eastern section of Edgecumbe – Hydro Road, Nikau Place, Miro Place and Konini Place – started reoccupying their properties. Some 46 properties were involved.

Today building inspectors are continuing to do checks around Edgecumbe on properties not already cleared. They plan to finish this by tomorrow.

They will be placing stickers indicating whether buildings are safe (white), restricted access (yellow) or unsafe for access at this stage (red). Red status doesn’t automatically mean homes will be uninhabitable, they are just unsafe at this stage.

Inspectors will leave information for those who are able to return to their homes. People can call the freephone number 0800 306 0500 to check on the status of their home.

The regional council’s flood management team is working with Metservice around what this morning’s Bay of Plenty severe weather warning will mean.

The regional council’s flood schemes are designed for the forecasted weather and it is reassuring the community that a number of precautions are being taken.

It is working closely with Trustpower to lower the Matahina dam to the lowest levels ever recorded. Its pumps along the Rangitaiki are going full speed to remove water from flooded areas and there are ongoing inspections of the stop banks.

The regional council expects the bulk of the rain is going to arrive Thursday and it looks like coastal communities are going to be hit the worst. Severe gales are also predicted along the coast which will likely lead to storm surges and flooding of coastal margins. The regional council plans another update later today.

If there is a need for further evacuations in the Edgecumbe area because of the weather, warnings will be issued as soon as possible.

Edgecumbe residents will be alerted to any evacuations by fire station sirens sounding continuously and by emergency services vehicles driving round with sirens on. That will be the signal to move.

Also, those who have or are going back to their homes can register for emergency text alerts by texting WH to 2028.

People should be prepared for evacuations – if you have to go decide where you will go (friends and family), what to take, how to contact each other, and how you will evacuate pets. Farmers are advised to move stock to higher ground from low lying areas before noon Wednesday 12 April.

Due to the risk of contamination from flood waters a boil water notice remains in effect for the entire Rūātoki and the Rangitāiki Plains areas, including Edgecumbe.

This means that people in these areas should bring water to a rapid boil for at least one minute to make it safe to drink.


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