Edgecumbe residents are running the full gamut of emotions as the mammoth clean-up of the flood-ravaged town continues.

About 200 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and cleaned out houses in the Bay of Plenty town affected by flooding.

Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne joined in the efforts, moving furniture and handing out Easter eggs to volunteers.

He said they are hoping to back up today's volunteer force with a similar group tomorrow.


"There's two shifts, the first one at 8 o'clock the second one being at 1pm."

He said the clean-up has been focused on the worst-hit sections of the town.

"Every house [in the area] is condemned, so it's a big job basically lifting everything out. You go round the streets, there's furniture everywhere on the sidewalks."

Bonne said there are mixed emotions among Edgecumbe residents, something he experienced first hand.

"There is resilience, there is looking to the future and there are others who are really coming to grips with the disaster, it's really hard for some.

"I went around today giving out Easter eggs and ... one couple whose house was basically destroyed, when I have them the Easter eggs they broke down... so there's a real mixture out there."

Bonne also said they've made efforts to keep "rubberneckers" away, suggesting they sign up to become volunteers instead.

Those who are keen to help have come from all over New Zealand, Bonne said.


"There's a lot of people wanting to help, some can only do half a day ... they find jobs for everybody.

"The day that I volunteered we were lifting carpets and condemned furniture out onto the road, because some people are by themselves."

He said some residents were frustrated that they were unable to move their possessions as insurance companies had not come to assess the damage yet.

"When you've got rotten food in there ... the sooner you can clean out your house the sooner you can actually save your property, so a bit of frustration there for some people when they can't move stuff out."

Bonne expects the clean-up to "go on for days, and as people go back to work the groups will get smaller".

He's expecting a similar number of volunteers to help out on Monday.

"They do a group text to say we need you, so hopefully they'll get another 200."

Mayor Tony Bonne with volunteers from Waimana and the East Coast whose whanau were affected by the flood Photo/Supplied
Mayor Tony Bonne with volunteers from Waimana and the East Coast whose whanau were affected by the flood Photo/Supplied

The work is being done by the Ngati Awa Volunteer Army in collaboration with Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatane District Council.

Volunteers are working on flood-damaged properties, assisting residents and contractors in removing the worst-affected belongings and removing silt from public areas.

Bonne said they'll be helping remove flood-damaged items from houses where water ran through them 1m or 2m deep.

He said a lot of it will involve taking furniture out of houses and putting it into skip bins.

Bonne said it's quite hard for the owners but they're relieved to see when they have a gang of four or five people there to help them in one property.

He said those who were co-ordinating the clean-up yesterday were all from the red zone where the houses have been condemned.

Vehicle access to Te Whaiti and Ruatahuna was restored on Saturday, and the Minginui-Te Whaiti Rd is also open.

State Highway 2 at Waimana Gorge remains closed due to a large unstable slip, with the council saying it will be at least midweek before the road is reopened.

Galetea Rd at Te Mahoe and Stanley Rd at the Waimana end are also closed due to slips.

Rautahi Marae Civil Defence Centre has closed, with the service transitioning to the Edgecumbe Contact Centre.

Boil-water notices remain in force for the whole district - except for Whakatane town, Ohope, Murupara, Matata and Coastlands.

Tankers of drinking water are at Ruatoki, Taneatua, Waimana, Edgecumbe.

Residents and businesses are being strongly urged not to hose or wash mud and silt into drains and the stormwater system as the post-flood clean-up continues.

Civil Defence controller Paula Chapman said mud and silt in the system may block pipes and cause flooding when further rain comes. Residents are advised to pile mud and silt on the berms outside or near their properties. It will be collected over the next few days.

Edgecumbe residents are also being asked to avoid putting large items like fridges and couches into skips that are being placed in streets as part of the cleanup.

About 120 skips and bins are being trucked into Edgecumbe daily and are being taken out as soon as they are filled.

The skips are primarily designed to take carpet, mattresses, food and smaller household items.

Whakatane District civil defence controller Jono Meldrum said people should put bulky whiteware and furniture on roadside berms, and they will be picked up by council staff and contractors over the next few days.

"Please place and stack items safely and try not to block footpaths or the roadway."