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Thursday, April 26, 2018

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Edgecumbe needs more volunteers

Posted at 9:35am Monday 17 Apr, 2017 | By Ryan Wood

The clean-up in Edgecumbe is continuing, with a call for more volunteers as the scale of damage becomes apparent.

The Ngati Awa Volunteer Army has been hard at work over the weekend, but there’s still a long way to go to make the flood-ravaged town liveable again.

Volunteer coordinator Sarah Omundsen says ‘NAVA’ are doing a fantastic job.

“It pulled together late last week when the scale of the clean-up became clear,” she says.

“It’s a collaboration between Ngati Awa, the Whakatane District Council, and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. We’ve got a database up online people can register with, and we’ve just been taking it from there.”

She says Saturday’s efforts were more straight-forward than Sunday’s, in which the volunteers began working on some of the worst-affected areas of the town.

“On Saturday teams went into areas that weren’t as flood affected. I think there were about 100 volunteers who cleared 80-100 houses. Yesterday was a different story, though. We went into some really damaged streets with more volunteers, but nowhere near the number of houses covered, just due to the scale of the damage.”

She says any more volunteers would be gratefully accepted.

“It’s a dangerous job, and there are some risks. So we do ask people to do the formal registration process, which lets them know what to expect and sends them to the right place.”

Volunteers can choose from either an 8am-12pm shift, or a 1pm-5pm shift, although most have been electing to stay all day.

Sarah says the clean-up will most likely continue until the end of the week.

“We will keep going until the damaged houses are clean.”

Due to the nature of the disaster, it is of course a hard time for many residents. So the volunteers are being asked to respect the wishes of those who want to do things on their own.

“There’s a lot of emotion. People are still in shock. If people don’t want volunteers in their house, that’s absolutely fine. We just knock on the door and see if they need help.”

Perhaps the most heartening aspect are the large numbers of volunteers from outside of Edgecumbe who have come to lend a hand – including overseas tourists.

“So many people from outside Edgecumbe are outing their time in. We’ve had people from the wider Eastern Bay and Tauranga, and even some tourists from Auckland who came down and are staying at the marae while they volunteer.”

Prospective volunteers can sign up here:


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