Thoughts with Edgecumbe, BOP as state of emergency widens

EDITORIAL

Thoughts will be with the people of the Bay of Plenty, especially those in Edgecumbe, as another tropical cyclone bears down on the already devastated area today. Giving it even more relevance is the fact that this district is similarly exposed to frequent weather events. There are fears that with climate change this kind of catastrophe could be the new norm.

At last reports the Bay of Plenty was facing up to 250mm of rain from midday today. A local state of emergency has been extended to cover the whole of the Bay of Plenty although there was some confidence this morning that the work done in Edgecumbe would prevent further inundation. About 140 schools and early learning centres have been advised to close and people have been warned to be prepared to evacuate.

Everybody will be hoping that does not happen. About 70 percent of the small township was flooded last week and the Insurance Council knows of 10 houses already that will have to be condemned. The devastation in Edgecumbe last week would have been some of the most dramatic seen for many years.

It is surely the first time a whole township has had to be evacuated. Adding to the misery is the fact that it will be days before all homeowners get full access to their properties. While there have been other much wider-dispersed storms, this one would have been possibly the most intense to strike a limited area, rather like the one that hit Ngatapa in the ’80s.

Many Gisborne people, particularly those on the Poverty Bay Flats, have been looking nervously at what happened in Edgecumbe. Memories of Cyclone Bola are still fresh and there is widespread feeling that this district is vulnerable. Anecdotally, the phrase “it could happen here” is common.

One of the continuing messages from public consultation is to speed up the time frame for the upgrade of the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme. The council has already decided to do that —after Edgecumbe it may be worth thinking of moving even faster.

Thoughts will be with the people of the Bay of Plenty, especially those in Edgecumbe, as another tropical cyclone bears down on the already devastated area today. Giving it even more relevance is the fact that this district is similarly exposed to frequent weather events. There are fears that with climate change this kind of catastrophe could be the new norm.

At last reports the Bay of Plenty was facing up to 250mm of rain from midday today. A local state of emergency has been extended to cover the whole of the Bay of Plenty although there was some confidence this morning that the work done in Edgecumbe would prevent further inundation. About 140 schools and early learning centres have been advised to close and people have been warned to be prepared to evacuate.

Everybody will be hoping that does not happen. About 70 percent of the small township was flooded last week and the Insurance Council knows of 10 houses already that will have to be condemned. The devastation in Edgecumbe last week would have been some of the most dramatic seen for many years.

It is surely the first time a whole township has had to be evacuated. Adding to the misery is the fact that it will be days before all homeowners get full access to their properties. While there have been other much wider-dispersed storms, this one would have been possibly the most intense to strike a limited area, rather like the one that hit Ngatapa in the ’80s.

Many Gisborne people, particularly those on the Poverty Bay Flats, have been looking nervously at what happened in Edgecumbe. Memories of Cyclone Bola are still fresh and there is widespread feeling that this district is vulnerable. Anecdotally, the phrase “it could happen here” is common.

One of the continuing messages from public consultation is to speed up the time frame for the upgrade of the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme. The council has already decided to do that —after Edgecumbe it may be worth thinking of moving even faster.

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