More than 680 people have registered as volunteers for the clean-up effort in Edgecumbe, including members of the Ngati Awa Volunteer Army.
In collaboration with Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatane District Council, Te Runanga o Ngati Awa have created the Ngati Awa Volunteer Army, who started their first day of clean-up yesterday with a karakia at the Ruaihona Marae Recovery Centre.
Ngati Awa Volunteer Coordinators Wini Hahipene-Geddes and Pim De Monchy have been overwhelmed by the support coming through from the community.
“This is a fantastic result for the recovery effort. We had two shifts working in Zone 3 yesterday to help residents get their places cleaned up, and have plenty of work for volunteers today.”
Volunteers are working on flood-damaged properties, assisting residents and contractors in removing the worst affected belongings and silt from public areas. Safety equipment and bins will be provided, and volunteers are being asked to come prepared in appropriate clothing.
“It'll be a messy job, but one that is made infinitely easier with so many pairs of hands,” says Pim.
Whakatane District Council Mayor Tony Bonne was on site to welcome volunteers and thank them for their efforts.
“This has been a significant event for our region, and today will be hard for many Edgecumbe residents. I'm extremely proud of the number of people who have put their hands up to help our region get back on track; not only those here this weekend, but also the volunteers who have been on the ground since Ex-Cyclone Debbie first hit.”
An estimated 80 properties were cleaned yesterday. All have had their exteriors cleaned and some have had the interior cleaned with assistance from residents.
Around 150 volunteers will head into Edgecumbe today: 120 into the north side of Edgecumbe (Zone 4) and 30 will continue clean-up in Zone 3.
Anyone who wishes to help with further clean-up is encouraged to register at www.whakatane.govt.nz/project-edgecumbe. Volunteers will be contacted directly to confirm when and where they are required to assist.