About 2,000 Edgecumbe residents have been evacuated from the town after the Rangataiki River broke through its stopbank. Civil Defence Centres for evacuees have been opened in Whakatane and Kawerau.

Red Cross Disaster Welfare and Support Teams from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua have been deployed and will assist in the welfare centres overnight. Teams from Dunedin and Christchurch are on standby and are also ready to respond as needed.

Red Cross Disaster Management Officer Gavin Newton says there is very significant damage in the area and water has reached record levels.

“The local population is very resilient, but this is a very fluid situation so we’re always expecting changes.”

He says he expects Red Cross teams will provide support in the welfare centres for at least three days before looking towards recovery tasks.

Earlier this week, Red Cross teams were deployed in Whanganui, where a State of Emergency was declared after wild weather threatened flooding, and at welfare centres in Tuakau and Ngaruwahia.