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/FAIRFAX NZ

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

Horse rescued from crashed float

The "horrible" crash occurred on the southern motorway near Pukukohe.

Jaws of life were used to free a trapped horse after "horrible" accident south of Auckland.

Along came a little lump

Dylan Bowman, 21, wants to try motivational speaking, to share his story and his outlook on life.

It all started with a few clumsy stumbles in the kitchen. Now, chef Dylan Bowman has a "nasty tumour".

Truckie thrown from vehicle

Westpac Rescue Helicopter is airlifting the truckie to hospital.

Man seriously injured after crash near Wellsford in Northland shuts section of SH1.

$500k crashed super car driver charged

The rare and exclusive McLaren super car line is named after New Zealand motorsport legend Bruce McLaren.

His rare and exclusive super car flipped on an Auckland motorway.

Wellington

Gunner Billy's high-seas adventure

Cigarette-card portrait of World War I hero William 'Gunner Billy' Sanders.

The VC winner lived and died in a boy's own dream.

NZ seeks military craft

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes will replace a fleet of retiring P-3K planes.

Four airplanes from US would replace a retiring fleet of P-3K maritime patrols.

Woman hit by car dies

Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, was closed for a while after the collision on Saturday morning.

Fatality in Gisborne while nasty crash in Wellington closes road temporarily.

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

Canterbury

Theatrical climate change march

The People's Climate Parade march towards the Avon River.

Key messages were expressed on stage in a "family-friendly" protest.

Small town Chinese garden scandal

The West Coast town of Kumara has a population of about 300.

Westland council allows tiny town's "nest egg" to be used for a garden many don't want.

Used office furniture glut hits Chch

Faced with four floors of surplus furniture to dispose of, Canterbury District Health Board services manager Pauline ...

Christchurch is the place for a bargain as tenants in new office buildings get rid of cast offs.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

Invercargill rocked to core after a love triangle turned fatal. Where did it all go wrong?

Waikato

Architectural wonders revealed

The new law and management building at Waikato University was designed by Opus Architecture.

A lot of well known Waikato and Bay of Plenty buildings - and spaces - have earned accolades.

It's our turn to fix this

A medical school backed by Waikato Hospital, pictured, and Waikato University  seeks to train GPs to fill a critical ...

OPINION: The old boys have failed to fix New Zealand's doctor shortage, now it's our turn.

Join the fight for our med school

Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley and Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray.

A proposed medical school in the Waikato has the Government interested.

Ref raids accounts

050711 NEWS. Robert Charles/Taranaki Daily News. Cheque/ cheque book. Money. Bank.

Colleagues blew the whistle on referee who swiped $13K and a video camera.

Taranaki

Faith in the future

Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary's, Bishop Philip Richardson, centre, blesses Dean of St Mary's Very Reverend Peter Beck as ...

New Zealand's oldest church is being strengthened and it's about more than bricks and mortar.

Mystery is solved 

An unusual search and rescue mission was launched on Mt Taranaki, after a backpack was left behind at Holly Hut.

Backpack sparked search and rescue mission after being left behind in mountain hut.

Campbell Lane opens

South Taranaki District mayor Ross Dunlop officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

New development in Hawera gets the thumbs-up from residents.

To Hollywood by motorbike

Todd Holland's work appears on motorbikes in Hollywood movie Ghost in the Shell.

A small-town car painting shop has made it big, with its work featuring in Ghost in the Shell.

Manawatu

Tourism tips in the 1920s

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles' wedding day.

Memory Lane: How to attract more tourists? The Standard had the answer 95 years ago.

13 reasons to watch

"13 Reasons Why" Star Gets A Tweet From Her Idol Lady Gaga!

Come on kids, time to watch controversial show dealing with suicide.

New act counters cyberbullying

The Harmful Digitial Communications Act was passed in July 2015.

Act helps as more than 20 people prosecuted for posting harmful content online.

NZDF civilians take strike action

Civilian employees of NZDF are on strike about pay.

Union accuses Defence Force of intimidation.

Nelson

Not a house, it's a croquet shelter

Athol Turner has a few home comforts at the Hinemoa Croquet Club shelter, including coffee and a biography of Alec Guiness.

As the Nelson City Council looks to implement a new law banning sleeping in the city we meet a man who has made a croquet club his home.

Housing crisis help?

David Barnes, right, with his son Samuel Barnes who needs medical care, pictured with the dwelling David built for him ...

A Nelson man built a home on his property for his mentally-ill son. Could this solve our housing issues?

Guilty of murder

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from home.

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder.

Taking a leaf out of the future video

Nelson Mail Journalist Tim O'Connell with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle(EV) that the Nelson Mail has had on loan from ...

Tim O'Connell shares the thrills, trials and tribulations of driving an electric vehicle.

Marlborough

Ophthalmology waiting list halved

The ophthalmology service at Nelson Marlborough Health has been remodelled which has cut the waiting list for those ...

The health board has remodelled its ophthalmology service and cut the waiting list for those needing follow-up.

Pokies accused 'collateral damage'

The Department of Internal Affairs said Mike O'Brien was "unsuitable" to be involved in the pokie gambling business.

Inquiry into who was behind pokie machine operations was flawed, says lawyer.

Old dog with new tricks

Vincent the retired guide dog plays Sandy in the new production of Annie.

A retired guide dog is treading the boards as the furry star of Marlborough's newest musical.

It's the climb

Blenheim cyclist Andrew Bidwell, 16, is aiming for a podium finish at the upcoming Age Group Road National Championships ...

When another cyclist said he was going to make Andrew's race hell, he laughed it off and smashed the pack by five minutes.

South Canterbury

Parents remember 'talented' son

Rowan Yeager died following a crash near Lake Ohau on Anzac Day. This photo, supplied by friend Andrew Weatherall, shows ...

Man killed in crash near Lake Ohau was just a week off moving into house he built by hand.

Cleverley 'exonerated'

Former South Canterbury District Health Board chair Murray Cleverley has spoken out for the first time about his ...

Former SCDHB chair Murray Cleverley says decision to resign as chair was tough.

'We have got a lot of work to do'

SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor says the DHB is going try and improve low rates of HPV vaccination by providing more ...

SC has a 'poor' HPV vaccination rate, prompting the DHB to turn to social media.

Strong winds lash SC

Police were called to the scene of a camper van crash on Friday afternoon, thought to be caused by the wind.

Tourists escape with minor injuries after two campers blown off road south of Tekapo.

Southland

'They thought it was a dolphin' video

The French tourist arrives at Dunedin Hospital by helicopter after she was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in ...

A French tourist who survived a shark attack wrenched its jaws from her legs, a local surfer says.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

A city's been rocked after a broken marriage ended in death. Where'd it all go wrong?

Ocean swimming 'sharks' territory'

Lydia Ward holds her wetsuit with tooth holes and the boogie board she used to fend off a 1.5m shark that bit her on the ...

A former shark attack victim has urged a tourist bitten by a shark to stay true to her passions - including ocean swimming.

Rugby's presidential change

Outgoing Rugby Southland president Donald Hay.

One Eastern Southland rugby stalwart goes, another one replaces him.

Ad Feedback