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Cordon to be lifted for some in Edgecumbe

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/04/2017

About 300 people have visited their flooded-damaged homes in Edgecumbe, and on Monday those living in streets to the east of the Rangitaiki River can go home.

About 1600 people were evacuated from the Bay of Plenty town on Thursday when a floodwall gave way as former Cyclone Debbie crossed New Zealand.

There was anger at public meetings on Saturday and in queues to sign up for police escorted access inside the cordon on Sunday.

People questioned flood management and a 10-year-old girl stood up in one meeting to say "I want to go home".

On Sunday afternoon, Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said "things are getting better".

About 300 people were able to visit 274 properties on Sunday.

"I can announce that everybody on the east side of the river, the Fonterra site side, from 8am tomorrow morning will have full access," he said.

There are about 45 homes there and the people returning to them will have to use portaloos.

"That's the start," he said.

He toured the hinterland with two government ministers on Sunday and was heartened the people there told him to focus on Edgecumbe.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is expected to visit the region on Monday and Federated Farmers has said it will be seeking support for farmers affected by flooding.

Stock have been moved out of the dairy farming region but feed for winter is lost.

"I know there is going to be some high-level talks tomorrow with Fed Farmers and the Rural Support Trust," Mr Bonne said.

He's hoping the cordon will lift in some other parks of Edgecumbe in the following 36 hours, though it's expected to take 10 days to pump all the water from the town and more rain is expected next week.

Ministry of Education officials will have help desks in Whakatane and Kawerau on Monday to allow parents to discuss schooling options for their children.

The agency will work out how parents wishing to get their children back in school can do so ahead of the start of term holidays on Friday.

The SPCA has been rescuing animals in Edgecumbe and the process of reuniting them with owners is ongoing.

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