It's been four months since flood water from the Rangitaiki River burst through a section of concrete stopbank and swamped part of Edgecumbe.

Ex-cyclones Debbie and Cook caused the evacuation of 1900 people throughout the Eastern Bay of Plenty and, since then, 557 properties have been assessed for flood damage - most of them in Edgecumbe.

Almost all of the people evacuated from Edgecumbe remain out of their homes. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has been co-ordinating and taking registrations for finding suitable temporary accommodation for people with flood-affected properties.

About 45 businesses were also disrupted due to the flooding.


However, progress is going well, according to recovery manager Julie Gardyne.

"I'm really pleased with the work that has been, and is being, done within the recovery project," Mrs Gardyne said. "Obviously you'd like it to go faster and get people into their homes earlier but I believe it is going well."

She said the recovery team was appreciative of the support received from the Government and a range of agencies that have helped get them to "this point".

"I understand, for the people out of their homes, four months is a long time and there is still a long way to go, but I think we're doing okay."

The Recovery Action Work Plan is working toward having 90 per cent of people back in their homes by Christmas. "This gives us a target to work toward."

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Mrs Gardyne said the general feeling within the Edgecumbe community was positive.

"We appreciate this remains a traumatic time and we are doing our best to support them while they're out of their homes and away from the community.


"I think we've got about four families home to date which is great news for those home but also great for the community to see some progress."

Currently looking like a billboard for a range of builders, tradespeople, insurance companies and various organisations, Edgecumbe is empty of people but full of advertising signs.

"One of the big things at present is the work going on between insurance companies and their flood-affected clients," Mrs Gardyne said. "We held an insurance drop-in day last Saturday and we had about 42 people through. It was a fabulous event that gave people the opportunity to come in and have a face-to-face conversation with their insurance companies and it was fantastic to see it supported."

To help the un-insured the Liveable Homes Project was initiated early in the recovery process and is helping the owners of about 20 properties to make homes habitable.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council commissioned an independent review looking into the infrastructure and circumstances that led to the breach and subsequent flooding, in the days after the disaster. The review was to be completed in July but the review committee, led by Sir Michael Cullen, requested more time.

Meanwhile, about 100 Edgecumbe residents have signed up to be part of a class action against the regional council. Lawyer Matt Josephson, who represented many people affected by leaky homes, has joined forced with David Heaney, QC, to head the action.

April flooding in the Eastern Bay - by the numbers

• 1900 people evacuated

• 557 homes assessed for flood damage - most in Edgecumbe

• 1400 hectares of farmland underwater for 10-14 days

• More than 2500 tonne of sediment taken to the landfill

• 18 tonnes of whiteware and steel recycled

• Ministry of Social Development has provided assistance to more than 3200 people

• 1500 registered volunteers contributed over 6800 hours of work over 11 days to the Ngati Awa Volunteer Army clean-up

• 15 homes severely damaged and deemed unsafe, 300 homes need repair to be habitable again

• 45 businesses in Edgecumbe affected

• Four families back in their homes