IT’S not long past 7am and Arlene Watters is scared her house is going to collapse on top of her.
The walls shake as the heavy machines rumble to work outside her front gate and Ms Watters worries about the cracks that have started to appear above the scotia of her College Road home in Edgecumbe.
Her property is next to the vacant lot that used to contain 12 of her neighbour’s homes until the Rangitaiki River burst its bank last year and tore through the site, flooding much of the town.
Afterwards, the 12 homes were rendered unliveable and demolished. The heavy machinery outside Ms Watters house is being used to prepare the site for the community park that will take the place of the 12 houses and reinforcing the river banks in the hope that they never burst again.
The work is undertaken Mondays to Fridays, and at times even Saturdays, starting at 7am and sometimes not finishing until 5pm.
Ms Watters was out of her home for five months after the flood while it was repaired. So, she said she understood the reason why the work was needed but she believed the heavy machinery was causing her house to violently shake, which was impacting on its structural integrity and her life.
She said the Bay of Plenty regional council had failed to adequately communicate with her and her neighbours about the work, which added to the stress.
“All they did was send out a pamphlet. There was no communication. The only communication was getting that plan in the mail. They didn’t come and talk to us, nothing.
“That’s one of our biggest concern is that lack of communication with what’s happening out there.”
And Ms Watters’ neighbours share the same concerns.
Fred Mansell and his wife, Pare, were living in his family homestead on College Road in Edgecumbe when the Rangitaiki River burst its bank and flooded the town.
Mr Mansell had lived in the house for more than 53 years, but it was one of the 12 condemned and purchased by the regional council.
Forced to live out of Edgecumbe, the Mansells were desperate to return so when the regional council offered to sell them a house a few doors down from their original home, they jumped at the offer.
Mrs Mansell said initially they were happy to be able to return to Edgecumbe, but then the works started in April and they didn’t even know how long they were going to take to complete.
She said she believed, like Ms Watters, that the shaking caused by the heavy machinery was destabilising her house.
“We are retired now but I try to make sure that I am not home during the day because it is just too much for me.
“The house shakes and sometimes it is so bad I feel like it is going to fall on top of us, so I just go anywhere else.”
Mrs Mansell said a structural engineer visited her house after she confronted the site manager about her concerns.
Next door, Kathy Tukere, echoed her neighbours’ concerns and said she hated spending her days off at home.
“It is pretty scary. They have known about how we feel along here, and they have done nothing. It is bloody frustrating and to be honest it is really pissing me off.”
Works crucial for peace of mind
WORKS, involving heavy machinery along College Road in Edgecumbe are necessary to provide “peace of mind for all residents”, according to Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Marketing and communications adviser Kay Boreham said the works were crucial to reinforce the stopbank that helps to contain the Rangitaiki River.
“Clearly the repair of the College Road stopbank is a priority for council.
“We know its completion will be a significant milestone for residents and provide considerable peace of mind for the whole community.
“We acknowledge that residents in the immediate vicinity of the site will hear and feel noise and vibration associated with the construction work and we recognise that some residents will find that disturbing.
“While we regret that impact, it is inevitable that some degree of noise and vibration will continue until the stopbank and associated roadworks is complete, which is expected to be a further eight weeks.”
Mrs Boreham said residents of two homes, directly across from the site, had expressed concern that work-related vibration was damaging their homes.
“In response, we have asked an independent structural engineer to assess the level of vibration and whether it could be causing any damage.
“We expect to receive his report early [this] week.
“Through the course of the project we have communicated with the community in a number of ways, including regular updates to the Rangitaiki Community Board – through reports and senior staff attendance at its meetings – and providing updates via the
The design plan has also been displayed at the site and is available to view at the Edgecumbe Library. Two community-appointed representatives sat alongside council engineers during the design phase for the stop-bank. “They continue to provide a valuable two-way communication between the community and project managers.”