Politicians say the town's just built in the wrong place but locals say: "Don't write us off ..."
Kaeo residents hit by two floods in a matter of months have a simple message for politicians suggesting they may need to move: Stump up with the cash to do so or stop the floods happening.
Tuesday's devastating storm cut the tiny Far North town of Kaeo off from the outside world for the second time in just over three months.
The storm, which dumped 272.5mm of rain on Kaeo in 18 hours, flooded the entire centre of the township along with dozens of homes in the surrounding area.
It also led to widespread flooding in Kaitaia, where more than 100 elderly residents of a rest home and nearby pensioner flats had to be evacuated.
Prime Minister Helen Clark toured the flood-ravaged area on Wednesday and afterwards suggested that the impact of climate change means there will have to be careful consideration in future about housing location.
Miss Clark said she was not suggesting anyone was going to be moved, but there were problems in some small townships.
"We have often established townships, even cities, on the banks of rivers," she said on Radio New Zealand. "In an age when there is human impact on climate change, are we going to be able to sustain those communities? There are questions to be asked."
Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp said Kaeo and Kaitaia were built on flood plains and there may never be a permanent solution to the towns' flooding woes.
But Paula Jones, who has lived in Dip Rd, Kaeo, with husband Mark for the past three years, was yesterday cleaning up after being flooded for the second time.
She said moving the entire town or even many of the houses was just not feasible.
"That's just a ridiculous idea. It's easy for them to say that, but where are we going to go to? Everybody has jobs in the area and schools to go to and it's not feasible at all to move us," Mrs Jones said.
She said if politicians wanted the community to move they should come up with alternative sites and help pay for the move.
"The bank owns our house and I don't think they'd be happy about just leaving it. Why don't they talk about doing some work on the river to stop this happening in the future? It would be better spending money on that than moving us. We are not walking away from this."
Mrs Jones said there had to be other solutions than moving entire communities.
Another Dip Rd resident, who did not want to be named, said there was no way he would be ordered to move. The road has been without power since early Tuesday.
"This is my property and if they want me out they'll have to pay. But instead of sitting in their flash offices maybe they could come up with some practical solutions to stop the river overflowing," the man said.
Meanwhile, teams of Air Force and Army personnel were late yesterday assisting the Far North District Council's flood recovery efforts in isolated communities dotted throughout the district.
An Iroquois helicopter distributed food, water and other provisions to the communities most in need, with around 100 people still isolated in the areas of Motatau, Te Ngaere Bay, Oamanu and Matawherohia Rd, Kaeo, Otaha Rd in the Takou Bay area and Maromaku.
Four Army Unimog trucks were also assisting in the clean up and rescue operation.
In Kaitaia, as of late yesterday, there were 32 uninhabitable homes, 25 uninhabitable pensioner units, two homes at risk of subsidence and a further seven residences that may be at risk but have not yet been inspected because the occupants are away.
One home at Whangaroa is uninhabitable, a house is in a dangerous condition in Totara North, and a building is in a dangerous condition in Kawakawa. Further inspections are targeted for Whangaroa, north Kaitaia, Kaeo and Totara North today.
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