A Levin family has been left homeless after a stopbank on their property burst its banks at 3.30am, sending a raging torrent of water knocking them off their feet.

The Friend family was eventually rescued by a neighbour who used a tractor to transport them to safety. Cyndi Friend said she was woken by her 27-year-old son, Tane Collins.

He lives in a sleep-out and had to traipse through the water with his dog to alert his mother.

"My son was banging on the door screaming out, 'Mum, mum there's water everywhere'.

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He was woken up by his little dog and put his feet out of the bed straight into water and started to panic." All she could hear was "glug, glug, glug".

"I immediately starting lifting a couple of things up off the floor but then the water just came up out of nowhere. Even [Wednesday] there's still water up around the house."

Her husband woke one of the neighbours whose animals were slowly getting submerged by the water while another brought his tractor over to help remove some large belongings along with Cyndi and her son.

"It was very unsafe, very much like a river ... we couldn't see a lot. We don't have any street lights here."

Mrs Friend said they'd owned the property for two years after a house swap with the previous owner.

While they had been told about previous flooding, they didn't realise the stopbank was so fragile.

They've since been told a portion of the stopbank had been repaired but any further repairs had been axed due to extra costs for ratepayers.

Mrs Friend said they would never have bought the property had they known about the stopbank's instability.

However, the council's river management group manager Ramon Strong said the couple didn't buy a LIM before buying the property, which would have identified the area as a floodplain.

The report would have confirmed the susceptibility of the property to flooding. Horizons' District Advice staff were not contacted. They would have also confirmed the existing flood hazard.

"Horizons has correspondence suggesting that the previous owner was also aware that the house had been flooded on several occasions and had planned to raise the house."

Mr Strong said the council only completed a partial upgrade of the Ohau stopbanks in 2012 due to feedback from ratepayers.

"As one of a number of targeted rate-funded river management schemes managed by Horizons, the scope of work for that upgrade reflected both the needs of the community and what they're prepared to pay."

Mr Strong said the flood wasn't unusual as it was within the average flood period of one to five years.