Young family frustrated over lack of alerts in Edgecumbe flood
A young couple with two children have been left with just the clothes on their backs after evacuating their Edgecumbe home.
Sam Kean, 26, and Daniel Lally, 25, are frustrated with mixed messages coming over social media, having been holed up in a home with no television or radio.
They're also shocked that there was no proper warning of the rising water levels in Edgecumbe, and were only told to evacuate by friends.
Kean was at home in bed on Thursday morning when she got a text telling her to get out.
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"There was no alarms, nothing," she said.
The pair arrived at the Whakatane war memorial hall for the first time on Saturday afternoon, where the Red Cross is providing support to evacuees.
A flurry of people were arriving seeking information, and to donate goods, and Red Cross staff were gearing up to do welfare checks.
Humanitarian services manager Jen Richardson compared the flooding of Edgecumbe and its subsequent aftermath to that of the earthquakes that upset Kaikoura in November last year.
Kean and Lally arrived with their four-year-old son Zeth after learning they could register for help and information.
"We didn't want to ask for help, but we don't even have toothbrushes," Kean said.
Just down the road at the Whakatane RSA secretary Andrew Thurlow is stunned after collecting an entire room full of donations after asking people to pop food into a small fish bin.
Setting up the bin by the RSA's bar he put out a public call for donations of food.
Very quickly he wound up with a room full of canned food and bedding.
The donations will be passed to the Salvation Army to organise.
Back at the Whakatane war memorial hall, Kean and Lally are upset to learn that their friends were allowed to return to their homes overnight to retrieve belongings, while they don't even have shoes.
"I was in bed, and I was on my phone and I had people texting me saying you need to evacuate," Kean said of their flee from Edgecumbe.
"There was no alarms, nothing. That was one thing that I'm angry about. There's a fire station right on the corner, their alarm goes off every time there's a crash, why wasn't that going off non stop?
"That's when (Daniel) rung me and said, 'you need to get the f... out now'. I went to go out and the road was already flooded."
With no petrol in her car Kean made a beeline for the gas station but was told none would be sold to her.
"I said to my kids, we might have to jump on the roof. By then my phone wasn't working but luckily (Daniel) came home. He's got a four wheel drive."
Lally, a boat builder, was working in Whakatane at the time.
"One of my workmates ran up to me at work and said, 'You've gotta go to Edgecumbe'. My mum was screaming 'the banks have burst', so I just jumped into my car and raced straight there.
"The cops were stopping everyone outside of town. They were holding everyone there, talking with every single person and I ended up just buzzing up the side, trying to go and get the missus and the kids. I was freaking out."
"It all happened so fast," Kean added. "You get the text to go and five minutes later half the town is already out."
The couple described the town as being in "chaos".
With no word from officials Kean said she didn't think the situation was too serious, and grabbed few items for their two children including a toy each, and some food.
The young couple have just the clothes on their backs, not even a pair of shoes.
"We've got $50 for petrol for our cars. We've no toothbrushes. No underwear. No clothes. So that's why we're coming here," Kean said, gesturing toward the Red Cross hub.
The couple is keen to get back into their home while the sun is shining.
They have two cats locked inside and being a single income family, they don't have the funds to buy much in the way of new clothes.
"We've been pretty sweet until it kicked in that we're not allowed home for 10 days. Our chest freezer is full of meat. Can we at least go home and donate it? It's going to get ruined. We can't even do that. So we've got nothing," Kean said.
"We've got no television where we are. No radio. So, I'm just going off what I find on Facebook and probably what some stuff they're saying is not even true.
"Some people were saying yesterday we could go home to get some stuff and today we heard the mayor said up to 10 days or something. So we don't know what's going on."
The couple were two of 1600 evacuees who have been told it could be as long as 10 days before being allowed back into the small town.
Edgecumbe is subject to a manned cordon and only restricted people have access, including emergency staff searching for animals.