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PM expects inquiry into Edgecumbe floods

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/04/2017

Edgecumbe residents have a right to be upset at how little warning they were given before floodwaters swamped the town and an inquiry will be launched, Prime Minister Bill English says.

"The indications are that under difficult circumstances sensible decisions were made," he told Newshub on Monday morning.

"[But] it is very important for residents there who have been pretty badly affected that they find out whether it was managed well."

His comments come after the town's 1600 residents fled their homes in a hurry on Thursday when a Rangitaiki River stopbank gave way, with some houses now likely damaged beyond repair.

Mr English said local government would likely lead the inquiry into how the floods were managed, while the central government would put together aid packages.

This could include support, such as reimbursements for accommodation expenses and relief for businesses and farms shut down by the floods.

The Bay of Plenty Council last week defended TrustPower's management of the Matahina Dam, upstream of Edgecumbe.

They started lowering Lake Matahina from Monday and the council claimed they were able to take 12 per cent off the river flow at its peak.

On Monday morning, some Edgecumbe residents are set to begin rebuilding their lives with people from 46 houses in the town's southeast being allowed home.

They will have water services but will have to use portaloos.

It's the first lifting of a police cordon after 1600 people fled the Bay of Plenty town on Thursday in a hurry when the stopbank gave way.

Residents expressed anger about flood management and the handling of the crisis at heated public meetings on Saturday.

Pumps are working 24 hours a day to remove water from the town, a process expected to take 10 days.

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