23 Apr 2017

Whakatāne Mayor: 'generosity of NZers' overwhelming

1:42 pm on 23 April 2017

Whakatāne's Mayor says he's overwhelmed by the donations that have come in for flood-hit Edgecumbe.

    Some of the worst-affected houses on College Rd, Edgecumbe.

Some of the worst-affected houses on College Rd, Edgecumbe, after floodwaters swept through the town earlier this month. Photo: RNZ / Zac Fleming

More than a quarter of the town's homes were flooded, and some were damaged beyond repair, when the Rangitāiki River overflowed two and a half weeks ago.

Almost the entire town, 1600 people, was evacuated and a state of emergency was declared.

Tony Bonne said a mayoral fund had received almost $60,000 in donations and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council had given $500,000 to help residents.

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation had given each flood-damaged household a $700 gift card.

"The generosity of New Zealanders and the world is just overwhelming to be honest and then of course the volunteers come in on top of that...

"Once you sit back you realise we live in a very good country where everybody cares about each other," he said.

The council was still deciding how the funds and donations would be spent, he said.

A farmer drives through flood waters on Otaiki Road the morning after the town of Edgecumbe was flooded by a burst stopbank.  Friday 7 April 2017

A farmer drives through flood waters on Otaiki Road the morning after the town of Edgecumbe was flooded by a burst stopbank. Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

However, Mr Bonne also said 40 percent of Edgecumbe's residents were not insured, which posed a major problem as the town tried to get back on its feet.

The district council was working with the Earthquake Commission and insurers on the clean-up, but it was also trying to work out how to help householders without insurance.

"There's some major building to happen and we are looking at some options, which hopefully we will be able to announce early next week...

"We want to make sure that we can actually get those houses saved rather than let them rot," he said.

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