Residents of the Bay of Plenty town of Edgecumbe are calling for an apology from authorities over the April flood.
An independent review has found the flood, during which a stop bank breached and destroyed 15 homes and damaged hundreds of others, could easily have been fatal.
It found local councils and civil defence authorities failed to warn residents about the flooding risk, which was unleashed on the town at 8.30am on April 6.
Edgecumbe resident Kelly Gibson said councils need to stop shirking responsibility, and say sorry.
"I think that they are only covering their butts in a way and they need to take responsibility.
"I think they didn't make the right calls on the day. They need to own that.
"I think the residents want to hear them say ' we mucked up, sorry'."
Gibson too though it was only luck that no one died.
"Imagine if it happened at midnight," she said. "I've got three kids of my own and I don't think I would have got out if it was midnight."
Gibson felt emergency services waited too long to act.
"I didn't see the fire brigade until 8.15 in the morning and the stop bank breached at 8.30," she said. "It didn't give us long to get out, really."
The review, led by Sir Michael Cullen, found Edgecumbe residents did not understand the serious risk posed by the Rangitaiki River breaching its banks, or understand formal evacuation procedures.
Civil Defence was given the order to evacuate the town just 20 minutes before the floodwall failed.
Edgecumbe home-owner Josh Cozens said it came as no surprise to him that the rain caused the stop bank to breach.
"I was on a tractor helping evacuate people the day of the flood, and helping pump water for two weeks after the event," Mr Cozens said.
"It's been my opinion from the beginning and it remains my opinion now - the rain was to blame."
The huge rainfall struck the area in the tail of Cyclone Debbie.
He said the report did highlight the infrastructure was not able to cope with an event such as the April one.
"But when you think how long this river has been here for and what it has coped with every event prior to April, it's worked every other time."