A state of emergency remained in place this morning in Central Hawke's Bay as residents in coastal settlements were left coming to terms with the devastation wrought by this week's storm.
In Pourerere, homes have been lost, metres of mud left behind by flood waters, and the terrain is ravaged and inaccessible due to thousands of slips cutting off access to properties and livestock.
The leaseholders of Pourerere Beach Caravan Park, Dick Grenfell and Kath Price, made a lucky escape along the beach at low tide yesterday morning with 15 occupants of the camping ground.
Part of the only road to the settlement was washed away on Tuesday.
"We were the last to leave because we had a lot to organise, we don't have much to go back to," Mr Grenfell said.
"There was water, and slips, and water from the slips. The big macrocarpa trees were creaking and groaning and snapping and falling down."
Ms Price said there was not only extreme damage to the motorcamp - with mud encompassing most of the facilities - but also to about 30 nearby baches that were also cut off.
"I'd say about 50 per cent were damaged, the houses are just filled with sludge and boulders, one is just filled with rubble - the slips were major," she said.
The couple said power and water had been cut to their facilities for days, and one man had to have urgent medical supplies brought in before he was later evacuated.
"One chap recently had a major operation on his stomach and had to have oxygen brought in by helicopter," Mr Grenfell said.
Nearby resident Phil Giddens is harbouring the now homeless couple, who wanted to stay close by to access their property as soon as possible.
"We're just playing it by ear really, we don't really know what will happen now," Ms Price said.
Further up Pourerere Rd, John and Sue Nation said their 500-acre property had been wrecked over three days.
Land on their hilly cattle farm was almost all unreachable due to the number of slips and likelihood of more.
"It's just too dangerous to go up there, the paths are all ruined and the ground is still moving," said Mr Nation.
"I've come across about three dead beasts but I don't think there will be more - well, I don't know really I can't get to them."
The Nation's family home, between two streams, was saved by mere centimetres as flood waters lapped at the doorstep, but the garage, swimming pool and tennis court were beneath metres of mud.
"The only thing I could see was the tips of my rose bushes sticking out," Mrs Nation said.
"John woke about 5am on Tuesday and the water was already past the pool and over the fence, by the time he had come and got me up and I'd packed my bags it was over the roses."
Mr Nation said he had lived on the land for his whole life and never seen anything like what happened this week, but was grateful the couple's business Punawaitai Pure Green Feed, was on higher ground and would be able to provide an income.
"It's going to be our only income for the next two or more years," Mrs Nation said.
"That's how long the land will take to recover, if not more," Mr Nation said.
Aerial inspections of 14 coastal settlements by rescue authorities yesterday morning helped officials gain an understanding of the situation and start mass-evacuations.
By late afternoon, helicopter-loads of evacuees from Kairakau, the only township still uncontactable yesterday morning, were flown 20km east to the Civil Defence Welfare Centre at Waipukurau's Russell Park Memorial Hall.
Central Hawke's Bay District Council Civil Defence Controller Te Aroha Cook said four people were evacuated from Aramoana and 35 from Kairakau, including four medical evacuations of two pregnant woman and two asthmatic children.
Today another eight evacuees were to come out of Mangakuri, and a further five children from Aramoana, she said.
A number of residents had been able to leave on their own from some settlements, and a number had chosen to stay in their homes.
Ms Cook said Aramoana and Kairakau were the worse hit in the region, with basic recovery taking weeks and some damage irreparable.
"Most roads we are hoping to have open and properly functionable by Tuesday or Wednesday next week," she said. "But Gibraltar Road in Aramoana will take about three weeks and the southern end of Pourerere Beach Road will be closed indefinitley.
"The damage there is extensive to properties and parts of the coastline have been completely eroded."
Kevin and Barbara Clout, who run the Kairakau Beach Camp, were among those taken to the refuge centre after the "good old Kiwi camp" was badly damaged.
"We lost eight sites and three caravans to the slips," Mr Clout said.
"They have gone over the bank and been tossed into the river."
Luckily, campers had left at the end of Easter weekend so only the managers were left when Civil Defence ordered them to leave at 4am on Tuesday.
Another evacuee from Kairakau said she and her husband were evacuated at the last minute when a large bank collapsed and demolished a two-storeyed wool shed behind their house.
"The slip only just came down this morning.
"It was huge, it took 20 minutes to come down and is still moving now, it took out a two-storeyed woolshed and the last bit of road," the woman said.
She said three or four families on farms behind the slip would now be trapped behind the road block.
"There's about three or four families that won't be able to get out, but we were a priority because we were so close to the slip. I think they said it would take a week to clear that bit of road."
Other evacuees, Georgina and Ian Johnson of Taupo, were at their eight-month pregnant daughter's beach house in Kairakau looking after her two young children when the disaster began to unfold on Tuesday.
"First that earthquake struck, and then the land started to give way," said Mrs Johnson.
"It was unbelievable, the huge river, you'd want to see the beach it's just covered in trees.
"After the earthquake, there was no power and a truck drove past and shined its lights on the river and all you could see was logs rushing down the river as fast as anything."
The Johnsons' daughter and her children live in Ongaonga and were some of the first evacuees from the badly affected settlement.
Their dogs, Chester and Fee-Fee, also escaped unharmed via helicopter evacuation.