Edgecumbe residents fed-up with flooding

Susan Franklin stands in the front yard of her house in Bridge Street, Edgecumbe that has flooded three times since she moved in in November. Photo Troy Baker.

A group of Edgecumbe residents have had enough of a stormwater drain that terminates on their sections and floods their properties during heavy downpours.

Phillip McDonald, whose property the drain terminates on, and Gloria and Ian Gibson, who live three doors down, have been putting up with the problem, and complaining to Whakatāne District Council, for the past 10 years.

Wednesday’s downpour saw all their properties on Bridge Street knee-deep in water, with stormwater overflowing from the drain and pouring from one property to another.

“Ten years I’ve owned this, and nobody’s ever done anything. Once a year I get it,” says Phillip.

He says he has mentioned the issue to the council many times.

Gloria says hundreds of thousands of litres of water were pouring out of the drain on Wednesday, which swept across two other sections before flooding hers and continuing to properties further along the street.

Luckily, the water hadn’t then risen high enough to enter the house, as the Gibsons had the cottage raised onto piles when they moved in.

But the garden and everything stored in the garage was ruined. She says the flooding occurred every time there was heavy rain, sometimes several times a year.

“In the last 10 weeks, we’ve been flooded three times. My biggest concern is that we lose our sewerage, and our land becomes contaminated.”

She has made multiple complaints to the council over the years and staff are very much aware of the issue, but she was still waiting for something to be done.

In between Gloria and Phillip, live Susan Franklin and Debbie Mason.

Susan bought her property in November and has had the section flooded three times since then.

“The last time we went and bought a pump.”

Despite the pump, and those of neighbours operating at full capacity, her section was knee-deep in water yesterday and lapping at the steps to her house.

“My father is in there. He’s 74 and he’s got Covid,” she says. “What am I supposed to do if he has to be transferred out of here.”

The sleep-out in the front yard of Debbie Mason’s home on Bridge Street, Edgecumbe is below water level.

She says water has never entered her house, so far. “But, if it keeps going, who knows?”

Debbie lives in a house belonging to her sister.

The property has a sleep-out in the garage, which was under several centimetres of water and Debbie has a pump operating to try and remove as much water as possible.

The fire brigade arrived at the property while the Beacon was there and pumped water from the sections.

Members of the fire brigade arrived to pump water from the sections on Tuesday.

There was further flooding on the corner of Rata Avenue and Puriri Crescent with the road being blocked to traffic.

The intersection of Rata Avenue and Puriri Crescent in Edgecumbe had surface flooding on Wednesday.

Gloria says a council employee visited her on Thursday and gave her assurances that the council will put a stop valve on the drain to stop water from coming onto their land in future.

She says that she can’t understand why they couldn’t have done that 10 years ago.

“He said to me, ‘it’s such an easy solution’. I said, ‘I’ve been asking for 10 years.’”

The council was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time the Beacon went to print.

Rainfall affects roads and wastewater

Tuesday saw huge quantities of rain falling throughout the Eastern Bay which continued overnight in some places.

State Highway 2 along the Pikowai straight was reduced to one lane on Wednesday due to flooding.

According to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council environmental date portal, Edgecumbe saw 122.5mm of rainfall over the 48 hours to 2pm yesterday.

Over the same period, Awakaponga had 138mm, Thornton had 122mm and Whakatane had 117mm.

As well as ground flooding in Edgecumbe, State Highway 2 at Pikowai was reduced to one lane due to flooding with stop-go traffic management in place most of the day.

On State Highway 35, between Te Kaha and Waihau Bay, due to a slip west of Waikawa Bridge, traffic was reduced to one lane under priority give way.

Whakatāne District Council also sent out a request for central Whakatane residents to limit their water use due to pressure on the wastewater system.

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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1 Comment

A stop valve?

Posted on 25-03-2022 12:34 | By morepork

That’s just a bandaid, and a poor one at that, if there is serious downpour. They should extend this stormwater drain OFF these properties to a more appropriate termination point.

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