10 Apr 2017

Edgecumbe support package likely - PM

8:44 am on 10 April 2017

Prime Minister Bill English says the government is discussing a support package for flood-struck Edgecumbe, with more details to be released in the coming days.

 Bill English in Edgecumbe

Bill English in Edgecumbe Photo: RNZ / Zac Fleming

The Bay of Plenty town was hit by a wall of water after a stopbank on the Rangitāiki River burst on Thursday, flooding the town and forcing its 1600 residents to flee.

Mr English said was a need for ongoing support for residents and businesses.

He told Morning Report today that the government was discussing a support package, with more details to be released.

"We know from previous disasters we have dealt with that good generous support early on gives people a sense of confidence that they are not on their own, and it helps them deal with the many complicated issues that arise."

Kaikoura-level help needed in Edgecumbe

Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne said an economic rescue package similar to that given to Kaikōura was needed to help the area recover.

People were being allowed to return to 45 unaffected homes in Edgecumbe at 8am, but the rest of the Bay of Plenty town remained cordoned off.

Mr Bonne told Morning Report he understood residents' frustrations.

"The Prime Minister made the statement when he was here, that this is on the same level as Kaikōura, and I believe that's so. So I'm saying now, for those businesses in Edgecumbe, they should have the same sort of relief packages as Kaikōura."

He said staff were talking to government agencies about what accommodation might be available for those who could not return home soon, and for those who were not insured.

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