The efforts of volunteers who braved blustering winds and rain to clean oil from Western Bay beaches have been applauded after organisers feared a no-show yesterday.
A severe weather watch was announced for the Bay of Plenty this week, sparking fears the Rena could snap and more oil would leach into the sea and on to our shores.
Salvors were forced off the ship when heavy sea conditions including 45-knot winds and 5-metre swells were forecast for last night.
Despite the rain and wind yesterday, volunteers chugged on through to help collect 150kg of oil at Papamoa beach yesterday, site manager Steve Courtney said.
"There were over 100 souls out there braving the weather," Mr Courtney said.
"You can't say enough for the guys, the men and women who would spare their time on a real crap day like we have had today.
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"I know I probably would have liked to have stayed home and had a cup of coffee."
At Te Tumu, just beyond Papamoa east, about 80 community probation workers worked on the section of beach which has private access.
"The people who come down, the community owe them big time.
"They really put their shoulder to the wheel to help clean the beaches," Mr Courtney said.
Volunteer co-ordinator Pim de Monchy was delighted at the turn-out, which began yesterday with just 40 people.
"We were considering whether or not to call the event off but last time we did that because of bad weather we got a little criticism from volunteers saying 'hey, we are all ready to work regardless'," Mr de Monchy said.
Since the Rena grounded on October 5 volunteers have given more than 11,000 hours of their time to help clean oil from the beaches - the equivalent of one person working non-stop for five-and-a-half years.
At Papamoa Beach yesterday, some wore the standard white Tyvek suits and gloves while others donned yellow raincoats during their work.
"Some have been cutting the oil bags and putting arm holes in them and wearing them," Mr de Monchy said.
The job of cleaning our local shoreline was especially tough work in the rain, he said.
"It's easier to pick oil up from dry sand rather then wet sand but the volunteers are very dedicated.
"They are working in a pretty heavily oiled area at Harrison's Cut."
Volunteers were also rounded up yesterday for specific duties at Papamoa and Maketu this morning due to concern the Rena might have broken overnight in heavy seas.
"We are trying to prepare for the worst but also prepare for the status quo, if the Rena doesn't break up," Mr de Monchy.
Both men said they still needed as many volunteers as they could get and encouraged anyone who wanted to help to contact the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website to register.
National on-scene commander Mick Courtnell said the oil spill response team remained in rapid response mode to mobilise when required, and a group of volunteers was also on alert and ready to assist.
"It has been an extraordinary effort to get as far as we have and remove over 1000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the ship, but we have always been at the mercy of the weather. The possibility of the ship breaking up has always been on the cards.
"We have everything in place to deal with further oil on the beaches and we urge those who have registered as volunteers to continue giving their support."