Council says it is providing 24/7 security in Edgecumbe

7:28 pm on 27 April 2017

The Whakatāne District Council is providing 24/7 security around the red-stickered area of Edgecumbe, its mayor says.

Severely damaged houses in Edgecumbe, after floodwaters tore through the Bay of Plenty town.

Some of the yellow-stickered houses, soon after the floodwaters had receded. Photo: RNZ / Leon Menzies

People in the flood-hit town have been organising their own community patrols after concerns about looting.

Edgecumbe, which has about 1600 residents, was evacuated earlier this month when the Rangitāiki River burst its banks during heavy rainfall.

Locals have been using social media to call for volunteers to help out with the night-time watches and the first took place last night.

It followed reports on Facebook that items, including televisions, had been stolen from some houses.

Mayor Tony Bonne said it was up to the police to patrol the rest of the town and any community patrol should be linked up with them.

Police said, since the cordons were lifted, they have increased patrols and brought in officers from Whakatāne and Kawerau.

Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Kevin Taylor said there was no evidence of mass looting or people roaming the streets intent on looting homes.

Mr Taylor said police were investigating three burglaries that happened while cordons were in place.

One person has been arrested for unlawfully being in an enclosed yard.

'We couldn't wait for them ... to decide'

Organiser Nen Tulloch said a small team of five women did the first patrol last night.

They were helped out by group of Māori wardens from Kawerau and some security guards who had come in from Waikato.

Ms Tulloch said she just wanted to lend a hand to people who were not able to check on their homes themselves.

"They're either too far away, or they've got babies to think about as well, or they're working. So I thought, well, I've got time and if that's the least I can do to help them, let's do it."

Ms Tulloch said she knew of one woman who was not able to get back into her house immediately after the flooding, who returned to discover most of her electronic goods stolen.

"This is actually when they had the security in place, believe it or not - it's mind-boggling.

"That was well-known and yet we heard on the news that the looting wasn't happening, but it definitely was."

Ms Tulloch said the police and the Whakatāne District Council probably thought they had done enough in terms of providing security in the town.

"In their eyes they've probably done what they think is right, but when you're listening to your family and friends, then you know, you're hearing it first hand," she said.

"We couldn't wait for them [council and police] to decide, okay we'll come back and do something. We had already waited."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs