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Sightseers slowing Edgecumbe clean-up

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/04/2017
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Sightseers looking to get a glimpse of flood-devastated Edgecumbe have drawn the ire of those trying to clean up the town.

An army of 150 volunteers is out in the Bay of Plenty town as residents return to their flood-damaged homes.

The Ngati Awa Volunteer Army has joined the regional and district councils with helping owners of flooded homes in removing their worst-affected belongings and cleaning silt from public areas.

But Whakatane District Mayor Tony Bonne said volunteers had been reporting steady stream of sightseers driving around the town and getting in the way on Sunday.

"This is frustrating and annoying for the volunteers and residents working on the clean-up," he said.

"If you are concerned for the people of Edgecumbe then come and help with the clean-up."

The district council has opened volunteer registrations on its website.

About 1600 residents were evacuated from the town nine days ago when a floodwall gave way as former Cyclone Debbie crossed New Zealand.

They've have been slowly trickling back in, but many homes have been left too damaged to be lived in at present.

More than 680 people have already also registered as volunteers at the Ruaihona Marae Recovery Centre and many set to work this weekend.

Boil water notices remain in place across much of the Whakatane District and water tankers have been brought in to Ruatoki, Taneatua, Waimana and Edgecumbe.

State Highway 2 remains closed at the Waimana Gorge due to a large slip and is not expected to reopen until midweek.

Galatea Road at Te Mahoe and Waimana end of Stanley Road are also shut.

Whakatane Civil Defence has urged residents not to hose or wash mud into drains or the stormwater system.

"Mud and silt in the system may block pipes and cause flooding when further rain comes," Civil Defence Controller Paula Chapman said.

Residents are being urged to pile silt on their berms until they are collected over the next few days.

The Rautahi Marae Civil Defence Centre closed at noon on Sunday, with evacuees being transferred to the Edgecumbe War Memorial Hall.

ELECTRICITY

Power companies were on Sunday morning also still working to restore electricity to hundreds of mainly rural properties around the North Island , after lines were downed by Cyclone Cook on Thursday night.

Lines company Horizon said repairs in the Bay of Plenty were taking longer than anticipated, while some pockets in the Hawke's Bay are not expected to have power until Monday, according to Unison.

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