Edgecumbe remains cordoned off as the floodwaters recede – and a look behind the cordon shows a town ruined by rain.
“It’s the old story: If it had happened during the night, there would have been deaths.”
READ MORE: Flood-ravaged Edgecumbe residents vent their fury at officials during fiery townhall meeting More flood evacuations possible, while Edgecumbe residents face 10-day wait to go home Teenage brothers rushed to help others as bank burst in Edgecumbe Photo essay: Edgecumbe in ruins
A stream of trucks cart dirt from a local quarry to the new stopbank. Three diggers are in constant motion, swinging, spreading and packing the dirt.
“Who would have thought we’d need dust masks after the other day,” Whakatane District Council chief executive Marty Grenfell said.
The gap was plugged at 11pm on Friday, to much relief. Work resumed at dawn on Saturday.
A new stopbank, taller than the last, has turned the torrent into a trickle.
He went half a minute down the road and received a call to say the bank was breached.
It carved a new river path, shunting homes metres off their foundations.
“You’d think it was another major earthquake when you look at the houses,” Bonne said.
SPCA national rescue response officer Gina Kemp, in a wetsuit and lifejacket, emerged from one of the properties with a chicken.
The chook had spent some time in the water, she said. She found it on top of a shed and managed to lure it down with some feed.
While the floodwaters have receded from the river’s edge, further west it has pooled and it will take one or two weeks to get the water out, Bonne said.
On Sunday, Edgecumbe remained without power, water or sewerage.
Residents of select areas could return home under escort to collect some possessions.
It will be another week, at least, before residents can return to their broken town.
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