Flood-ravaged Edgecumbe residents vent their fury at officials during fiery townhall meeting video

CHRIS McKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne fronts an emergency meeting with angry Edgecumbe residents.

Hundreds of displaced Edgecumbe residents stormed out of a public meeting as fraying tempers tipped over into anger on Saturday night. 

Bleachers were packed with families, children, and elderly, many hugging and comforting each other as the meeting endured and officials appeared to fail to answer the more pressing questions. 

The crowd frequently heckled the speakers, often appearing enraged. 

The mayor of Whakatane, Tony Bonne, hosted a emergency meeting of displaced Edgecumbe residents in Whakatane Memorial Hall.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

The mayor of Whakatane, Tony Bonne, hosted a emergency meeting of displaced Edgecumbe residents in Whakatane Memorial Hall.

The meeting was held in an old basketball stadium at the Whakatane War Memorial hall, getting off to a slow start after a sound system wasn't provided for the meeting- prompting boos and calls from the public about the lack of organisation. 

READ MORE: 
Anger and questions over Edgecumbe Flood
Matahina Dam responsible for flooding: residents
Frustrations over lack of alerts in Edgecumbe flood
SPCA rescues 50 animals from flood-stricken Edgecumbe in one day
Watch: a kayak across flooded Edgecumbe farmland

An hour later fewer than 100 people remained, with some long-time residents patiently waiting for their turn to take the microphone to vent, to suggest alternative courses of action, and to despair over what they say is a lack of communication from council and civil defence, and disbelief that such a flood could happen twice in just over ten years. 

Edgecumbe residents were at their wits end during an
emergency meeting hosted at the Whakatane Memorial Hall.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Edgecumbe residents were at their wits end during an emergency meeting hosted at the Whakatane Memorial Hall.

"It's a bloody disgrace," said one resident, who declined to be named.

"Nothing's been done. We're bloody sick of paying rates and getting nothing done. The people of Edgecumbe have had a gutsful." 

He lost his home in the 2004 flood, and was incredulous that lessons hadn't been learned. 

Tempers boiled over among Edgecumbe residents at a public meeting on Saturday night.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Tempers boiled over among Edgecumbe residents at a public meeting on Saturday night.

Officials from Bay of Plenty regional council, the district health board, and the Ministry for Primary Industries fronted, including mayor Tony Bonne who promised a thorough inquiry into what had caused the flood. 

Ad Feedback

Chief among locals' concerns are irritation at the lack of alert that flooding was likely, that some people had been allowed to visit their homes to collect belongings while others hadn't, and how the flood had happened in the first place. 

One resident, who declined to be named, said the meeting had done little to ease his concerns. 

Edgecumbe residents console one another during the
emergency meeting.
Chris McKeen

Edgecumbe residents console one another during the emergency meeting.

Given a chance to directly confront officials who fronted for the meeting, locals accused them of failing the Edgecumbe community. 

"We are treated like second class citizens and we pay high rates. We are not happy. This whole situation should have been prevented," one woman said. 

One girl sobbed into the microphone saying she just wanted to go home again, while another father stood up and said the mayor and their colleagues needed to sort their "s---" out. 

Residents of Edgecumbe are distraught during a community meeting in Whakatane.
CHRIS McKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Residents of Edgecumbe are distraught during a community meeting in Whakatane.

It's estimated 70 per cent of homes in Edgecumbe have been affected by severe flooding, with the worst hit houses in low lying areas expected to be condemned. 

On Saturday night, officials promised that for the small number of homes that were unaffected, residents could be escorted through the cordon to collect bare essentials. 

However they cannot return for at least 10 days, due to a lack of electricity, water and working sewerage systems. 

Mayor Tony Bonne fronts disgruntled Edgecumbe residents at emergency town hall meeting.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Mayor Tony Bonne fronts disgruntled Edgecumbe residents at emergency town hall meeting.

For those without accommodation hubs have been set up at a Kawerau marae, at the town hall and the Salvation Army, with Red Cross workers working round the clock taking in donations, and directing residents to where they can access help. 

At the hall on Saturday it didn't appear anybody was planning on spending the night. 

Many locals said they had friends and extended families sleeping on their couches. 

Two diggers worked on repairing the breach in the stop bank that allowed the Rangataiki River to flood Edgecumbe.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

Two diggers worked on repairing the breach in the stop bank that allowed the Rangataiki River to flood Edgecumbe.

The official line is that collecting financial donations are a main priority, though unofficial stations across Whakatane are taking in food, clothes and bedding for when the displaced eventually get back on their feet. 

Whakatane district council chief executive Marty Grenfell said progress would be slow, but sympathised with residents. 

"Everyone is different. Some people will never able to go back and live in their homes. The town is not safe and it won't be safe for some time." 

The district health board has promised free pharmaceuticals and GP visits for displaced residents, and counsellors would be on hand at the Whakatane war memorial hall. 

Mayor Tony Bonne meets with New Zealand Defence Force personnel earlier this week.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Mayor Tony Bonne meets with New Zealand Defence Force personnel earlier this week.

Officials were going around door to door to check on animals left behind. 

Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said crew had been working around the clock since Thursday to repair the breach in the flood bank.  

"I know you don't believe it, but we're here for you," he said. 

"We've had 13 trucks working constantly at bridging that gap further, and strengthening it so we can weather the next lot of rain that's coming next week. 

"Can I tell you that we've been doing our best." 

Any eventual inquiry would investigate why warning systems hadn't activated to alert residents to the need to vacate their homes, locals were told. 

A number of people complained that no alarm had sounded on Thursday morning, when the floods hit, and had only evacuated following word of mouth. 

Not convinced the situation was that serious in the absence of official communication, they hadn't taken many of their belongings, they said. 

*Comments have been closed on this article

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

TV presenter fights off shark

Lomas says he wouldn't hesitate to continue swimming and kayaking in the area.

The presenter of TV3's Lost & Found was paddling near Takapuna Beach when he looked down to see the body of a shark attacking his kayak.

'That's our son'

Cory Parish kisses the Caulfield Cup following his upset win aboard Boom Time.

The kid from nowhere who has been through all the struggles you could imagine never gave up on the dream.

Derelict property for sale: $8m video

Only the concrete framework of an unfinished house remains on a derelict site for sale near Auckland's Takapuna beach.

An unfinished house which had been at the centre of a neighbourhood dispute could sell for more than $8m.

Girls rule at graffiti festival

Auckland-based muralist Adore (aka Emily Gardener) prepares for three days of painting at the Graffiato festival in ...

Seven of the 10 graffiti artists this year are women.

Wellington

As many one-liners as birthdays

Kapiti Coast woman Evelyn Hutchins on the eve of her 104th birthday.

Sharp memories, sharp wit: more than 103 years of NZ history and life for Evelyn Hutchins.

Quake near Kaikōura

Guests staying the Kaikoura Boutique Hotel won't forget Sunday's 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

Hotel occupants rattled as town hit by 5.4m earthquake.

Gorge opening needs rethink

The Manawatū Gorge is unlikely to reopen any time soon as the hillside is too unstable.

Calls for the Manawatū Gorge to open to one lane while a new route is formed.

Free-to-air rugby tests a no-go

New Zealanders may not have minded not having free-to-air All Blacks' tests, following their shock loss to the Wallabies ...

It's not part of a coalition deal with NZ First, Labour confirms.

Canterbury

Diwali delights Cantabs video

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is celebrated in Christchurch every year by Indians in South Island and the wider ...

Riches of Indian culture attracts thousands in Christchurch.

Fatal shooting on Coast

Police attend the scene of a shooting on Marsden Rd, Greymouth, on the West Coast.

A woman has died after a shooting in Greymouth.

Apartments project downsized

This original plan has been replaced by one with smaller homes.

Apartment sizes cut back in Crown-led private housing development in Christchurch.

Vandals strike dairy farms

200102014 news photo Grant Matthew / Fairfax NZ

NZ Farmer:
Dairy cow.

Around 30 irrigator tyres punctured with a drill, and milk emptied out of vats.

Waikato

Armed men rob Hamilton store

The first man was carrying a yellow-handled hatchet and had his face covered.

Carrying a hammer, hatchet and screwdriver, trio steal cash and cigarettes before leaving in a stolen car.

Fast-track housing

The two largest sites could provide about 1000 houses each, and the smallest 42 homes (file photo).

They include an old sand quarry, an old commercial site, and a patch of empty land on the edge of Melville.

Orcas scare swimmers video

The fin looks menacing in the water behind the swimmers at Hot Water Beach.

The killer whales were thought to be feasting on stingrays.

Farm's urban potential

A dairy farm for sale, with Hamilton City in the background, is being pitched for urban development.

City-fringe dairy farm marketed for potential urban housing development.

Taranaki

Good speeds at trolley derby

221017 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Trolley Derby in Eltham.

Fire truck beats tank and all comers in downhill trolley race.

Danger on the roads

A car was left extensively damaged after it rolled multiple times near Mt Messenger.

A spate of crashes keep crews busy this Labour Weekend.

Tough end to Cooper's tenure

Colin Cooper's tenure at Taranaki has ended.

"I'm disappointed, the team was good enough to have a home final here."

Here comes the model railway video

One of the trains pulls into the New Plymouth station at the New Plymouth Model Railway Club.

One of the tracks is a real life simulation of a train journey from New Plymouth to Palmerston North.

Manawatu

Toned, tanned and taunt gallery

Bodybuilding contestants in the novice shape category.

Bodybuilders from throughout the country flex their muscles in Palmerston North.

Mayor's hemp vision

Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen wants the Horowhenua District Council to back hemp farming.

Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen wants the council to back hemp farming.

Hartley's F1 debut video

NZ's Brendon Hartley during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, ...

Brendon Hartley finishes F1 US Grand Prix qualifying in 18th before penalties are applied.

Farm worker unfairly sacked

Federated Farmers representative David Lee-Jones was found to have unjustifiably dismissed an employee.

Federated Farmers representative must pay up for breaching a fixed-term worker's rights.

Nelson

Troubled school looks to the future

Golden Bay High School in Takaka has been under statutory management since March.

Outside governance has been appointed to manage a Takaka school and a public meeting will be held next week to discuss its future. 

Makos headed for final

Tasman Makos captain Alex Ainley is welcomed home by his daughters Emilia, left, and Kaiye at Nelson Airport after the ...

The Tasman Makos are now preparing to take on Canterbury in Saturday's premiership rugby final.

Quake shakes Kaikōura

Guests staying the Kaikoura Boutique Hotel won't forget Sunday's 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

Hotel occupants rattled as town hit by 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

Special Olympics flame in Nelson

Claire Robertson of Nelson police passes the flame to Special Olympics athlete Fraser McManus during the inaugural torch ...

Intellectually disabled athletes take part in Nelson leg of torch relay to launch games.

Marlborough

All access

NZ Access technician Tim Newton lowers himself into a wine tank during a training exercise.

The thought of confined spaces can drive some people up the walls. Not these guys.

Men 'fell like a pack of cards'

Four men were on the deck outside the Portage Resort Hotel's restaurant and bar in the Marlborough Sounds when a rail ...

A group of men fell off a Marlborough hotel deck "like a pack of cards" after a railing collapsed, a witness says.

Quake shakes Kaikōura

Guests staying the Kaikoura Boutique Hotel won't forget Sunday's 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

Hotel occupants rattled as town hit by 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

Think outside the ball

Jemma Funnell shows off a kokedama ball, on display at Thomas's Department Store in Blenheim.

The latest gardening trend to come out of Japan, dubbed the "poor man's bonsai", is bouncing its way to Marlborough.

South Canterbury

Back in town after 56 years video

Joe Gillman, 76, made the journey from Stillwater on the West Coast in his 1935 Ford V8 Coupe, to take part in the ...

Motoring enthusiast makes the journey from the West Coast in his 1935 Ford V8 Coupe to take part in the Waimate 50.

ECan waiver for some

10082016  News John Bisset/FairfaxNZ.  Tom O'Connor with his road cones he purchased so he can warn motorists of flooding

Struggling households can apply for a temporary woodburner exemption.

Timaru man flown to Christchurch

Police attended a crash at Maungati, which saw a man with serious injuries flown to Christchurch.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter takes Timaru man to Christchurch Hospital after vehicle rolls at Maungati.

Winchester Rodeo ropes them in video

Ginny Nelson tosses the rope during the team roping event at the Winchester Rodeo.

About 3000 attend rodeo event.

Otago

Encouraging start for Southern United

Southern United coach Paul O'Reilly.

Southern United have come from behind twice to secure a hard fought 2-2 draw against Auckland City in Dunedin.

Drunk teen's crash shocks

All four occupants of the car that crashed in Central Otago were intoxicated.

Intoxicated parent a passenger when drunk, unlicensed 15-year-old crashed car.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.

Ex-convict fears 'war on me'

Rex Haig, of Dunedin, is hoping to lodge a compensation claim with the Government.

Rex Haig's murder conviction was quashed, but his fight for justice is far from over.

Southland

Location scout's extraordinary life video

Dave Comer was considered New Zealand's first professional film location scout.

From Barry Crump commercials to Peter Jackson blockbusters, Dave Comer connected NZ's landscapes with its people.

Ex-convict fears 'war on me'

Rex Haig, of Dunedin, is hoping to lodge a compensation claim with the Government.

Rex Haig's murder conviction was quashed, but his fight for justice is far from over.

Garage fire being investigated

A garage on a Conon St, Invercargill, property was gutted by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigators have been requested following a garage fire in Invercargill.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.

Ad Feedback