Edgecumbe centre closed

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PACKING BOXES: Edgecumbe resident Ria Davis folds clothing into boxes to be transported to another centre for flood victims. Photo Troy Baker D5302-09

EDGECUMBE flood victims have added another loss to their lives with the closure of the town’s welfare centre.

The centre for flood victims at the Edgecumbe War Memorial Hall closed on Friday.

As of Monday, furniture, whiteware and appliances will be found at Pou Whakaaro and clothing and soft furnishings are available from the old Countdown building.

The Te Teko Hall continues to operate with food, clothing, linen and small household items.

Edgecumbe centre co-ordinator Roseanna Lowe was given three days’ notice the centre was to close its doors.

She, other volunteers and some displaced residents were in shock and upset when they learned donated goods would be moved to Whakatane.

“The request of the locals is that this stays local,” she said.

“They are taking out the Edgecumbe [centre] and that’s the one that everyone wants because there are so many people without cars who come down here because they are able to walk.”

Ms Lowe said the Edgecumbe centre was a key part for displaced residents’ recovery.

The centre had been opened for less than three weeks and was a key location for displaced residents.

“What’s happening here is more than people coming to get furniture. They have a coffee, have a hug, a korero. They bump into people; everyone has been ripped away from people, they’ve gone in different directions.”

Fifty Edgecumbe residents arrived at the centre on Friday to discuss their concerns about the closure.

It was said the Edgecumbe Tae Kwon Do club, and other clubs, wanted to return to the hall.

Flood victims Gerrard and Debbie Edwards, who run the tae kwon co club made it clear to residents they had no intention for the centre to close to enable the club’s training to continue.

“The tae kwon do club had nothing to do with it. We are happy to find another venue for our members to train,” he said.

“Edgecumbe needs a place for people to walk into and this is what we don’t want to lose.

“We have been through this all before and we like that the centre is here.”

Displaced resident Gloria Gurran said she felt destroyed when she learned the centre would close.

“I love coming here because this is my community. This is where our hearts are and the centre should be here.”

Whakatane District Council Recovery Project co-ordinator Paula Chapman said organisations and agencies that were receiving and distributing donated goods agreed to take a co-ordinated approach as the recovery project develops.

Rather than the duplication of efforts, it was decided to co-ordinate donated goods, including closing the Edgecumbe centre.

Ms Chapman said robust systems were in place to ensure those receiving assistance are those that most needed it.

She said co-ordinating goods would ensure there was a clear picture of what is and isn’t available.

Closing the centre at the hall meant the Edgecumbe community regained access to its community hall for other activities. It also meant efforts were not being duplicated by volunteers.

haylee.king@whakatanebeacon.co.nz

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