Edgecumbe floods: 'We've only been in our house a week'

12:07 pm on 11 April 2017

Retired couple George Kururangi and Sophie Kurei had been in their Edgecumbe dream home for just a week when the floodwaters came.

George Kururangi and Sophie Kurei had been in their Edgecumbe home for a just a week before the flood swamped the town.

George Kururangi and Sophie Kurei. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

And Ms Kurei said without the help of two neighbours she could have been swept away.

The senior citizens had just bought their dream home in Edgecumbe after a 10-year stint working in Western Australia's mines, saving every penny for their retirement.

But like many others, last Thursday's flood has changed everything.

Ms Kurei broke down in tears and told RNZ they had no idea what tomorrow would bring.

"We've only been in our house one week, everything is still in boxes on the floor."

She said when the flood came they had no idea where to go and found themselves waiting in wet clothes outside the fire station until friends collected them. They had been with them since.

This morning at 8am they went to the Edgecumbe Civil Defence contact centre, hoping to be let inside the cordon to collect some possessions, but they were told the time had been moved an hour without any notice.

Mr Kururangi said that was how it had been the whole time.

''No communication whatsoever, honest no communication to the people who have been affected," Ms Kurei said.

More families wait

Dozens of families arrived at the emergency centre this morning wanting information. Their faces were weary as they arrived and embraced each other and shared their stories.

And there were tears and anger and frustration with the lack of information from authorities.

Mini marae

Lolo and Boss Hale.

Lolo and Boss Hale. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

Lolo and Boss Hale lived 15 minutes down the road in Te Teko and had 22 family members staying at their three-bedroom house.

The family had set up a camp kitchen under the carport and they took turns in the shower - a portaloo was brought in to help them cope.

Four of the Hale families would find out today if they would be allowed back in to their houses or not.

Dee-Dayna Riddiford said camping out with the whānau had been good for their spirits, but they were worried about what they had left behind in the red zone.

The Hale family.

Members of the Hale whānau who have been staying with Boss and Lolo after their homes were flooded out. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes