A Civil Defence Centre, which was opened in Waverley for those from Waitotara who needed shelter, was closed last night.
George Kent, who owns the Clarendon Hotel in Waverley, near Waitotara, said they offered beds to residents who were evacuated from the township last night.
Group controller David Lean said South Taranaki District Council staff were assessing a number of flooded houses in Waitotara, before residents would be allowed to return.
Meanwhile a helicopter would fly into the Waitotara Valley this morning, to assess conditions and respond to two requests for assistance.
Mr Lean also advised people to stay away from beaches, rivers and streams until Tuesday because of potential contamination as a result of heavy rain and flooding.
Boaties are also advised to be aware of flood debris that has been washed out to sea.
Locals were being evacuated to the nearby town of Marton, where they were being housed "anywhere they could" said the Rangitikei council spokeswoman.
However some Marton accommodation was now flooded as well.
Adobe Motel operator Carol Hausman said four groups of people had to leave after the motel flooded last night.
"It's six inches right through," said Ms Hausman, who guessed the motel might now be closed for months. "It's not a five minute job unfortunately."
Ms Hausman said she had warned people the motel could flood, and everyone was awake and able to leave quickly when it happened.
Owner of the Waitotara Hotel and Store Mary Martin said she was allowed to return to her store at 10.30am.
Ms Martin said she was reluctant to leave her property last night, but was relieved to find no flood waters had damaged the hotel this morning.
"That was thankful. We are one of the lucky ones."
She said a friend from Waitotara told her he arrived home to metre-deep flood waters through his house this morning.
"There is a patch of the houses in the area that it probably did go through but I don't know how many.
"We've got silt right outside, it's all around the hotel... it is just all thick mud it's all out the front of the shop here, right down the street, right down the middle of the village.
"This is what's through people's homes."
Some six and a half thousand sandbags are being filled at McIlwaines concrete yard in Marton and the council is inviting anyone who needs some to come and collect them.
Mitre 10 staff member Vicki Ritter said volunteers were helping the council fill the bags, which are used to protect property during flooding.
"People have started to come and pick them up."
Marton Motel owner Cathy Rainey had a couple staying with her who had to leave their flooded home in Turakina.
"I have one couple that are obviously devastated, they've lost their house and all their possessions."
Mrs Rainey said some of her guests were travelling through the region and had to stay the night due to flooding on the roads.
Marton hotel owner Sandy Beaman said the Club Hotel was "bursting at the seams" last night as Civil Defence and the army brought evacuees into the town centre.
"Civil Defence brought us quite a few people because their homes were uninhabitable," Mrs Beaman said.
"The army came in in Unimogs because the wheelbase is so high they could actually get through the floodwaters."
Army trucks were the only vehicles Mrs Beaman knew of high enough to travel through the flooding last night.
"They brought quite a few people back from town."
Most people "arrived pretty wet" but were trying to look on the bright side, Mrs Beaman said.
"Some people were a bit downhearted because it turns out they didn't have any domestic insurance cover.
"But that's just one of those life things, isn't it?"
The local Tutaenui Stream burst its banks last night at around 9, taking locals by surprise, Mrs Beaman said.
"It's the main topic of conversation...just the fact that it happened so quickly and [people] weren't really prepared for it."
Small town community spirit was prevailing as Marton moved into the clean up phase.
"Everyone's sort of grouped together to help people and what have you, there's a massive clean up today so community groups have been out helping."
Kim Lewis lives on the Whanganui side of the Waitotara River. She said fire crews visited her home at 11pm last night with an order of evacuation, however, she chose to stay at home, to take care of her livestock and her dogs.
Although the Waitotara River rose so high last night it began to flood her backyard, her home was unscathed.
"I'm very grateful."
There are seven houses I saw this morning that are seriously, seriously flooded with water inside the houses.
"They've been hit before. They are pretty gutted but they're country people and you just sort of pick up and carry on, everyone mucks in and gets in behind you, trousers pulled up, bare feet.
"They're trying to lift up as much as they can."
Ms Lewis said the rain had stopped, and the water was already beginning to recede quickly.
She said she understood that people had been evacuated from the Waitotara Valley by helicopter, as roads surrounding the area were completely underwater.
'Homes are a mess' says Rangitikei Mayor
Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said he expected more evacuations in the region by the end of today as people headed back to their houses and realised "their home is a mess".
"It wouldn't surprise me if we were dealing with 20 or 30 more [evacuations]."
Mr Watson said a helicopter flyover with civil defence late this morning revealed much of the coast near Turakina beach was blocked off from State Highway 3 by flooding.
"We do not have access other than by air to Turakina beach so we have got to find some kind of way to get rid of a massive amounts of water."
Mr Watson guessed there were "a hundred-odd people" at the beach who were currently unable to leave.
Meanwhile, a number of people in Whangaehu had been isolated by floodwaters and it was too dangerous to retrieve them, even by helicopter, Mr Watson said.
"That was six to 10 people - they were fine but we have to wait for floodwaters to recede before we're in a safe position to get them out."
Mr Watson said the council was dealing with infrastructure damage and issues with sewage water but as far as he knew there were no problems with access to drinking water in the region.
"Drinking water seems to be okay, but we've had one sewerage line cut last night."
A strong community spirit prevailed in Rangitikei's farming communities, he said.
"People help each other. The first thing they want to do is they want to check on their neighbours, they want to offer support and they want to offer support to us as an
authority so you get farmers saying 'Hey look I've got a big tractor ... would it be helpful if I could clear some of the smaller slips so we can check on this house?'
"[There is a ] very strong community spirit within the Rangitikei and it's fantastic."
Evacuees had been shaken up by the flooding, Mr Watson said."Last night a number were scared.
You have people in houses, it's dark, the water is suddenly rising and they don't know where it's going to stop so they're frightened.
"And then you get relatives calling saying, 'Can you check my mum's okay?' ... and in the case of one family, 'Can you check on my pet rabbit? It's in the hutch behind the house'."
Mr Watson said he had checked on the rabbit last night and was able to tell the family it was safe.
"I mean that sounds light-natured in the scale of the things we're dealing with, but these things are very, very real to people."
In Koitiata, west of Marton, declaring a state of emergency meant the council could evacuate people and officially assess damage to their homes, Mr Watson said.
"It will give us the ability to assess whether their homes are fit for human habitation.
"I gather there are about 10 houses in Koitiata and Turakina Beach which have had water flowing through them and we'll see where we get to from there."
Taranaki council set to inspect the region's damage from the sky
A Taranaki Civil Defence controller will take a Taranaki District Council member on a helicopter inspection of Waitotara Valley this afternoon.
They will also drop off emergency fuel supplies for a Waitotara Valley household. A state of emergency is still in place in Taranaki because of the flooding in Waitotara township.
Residents were evacuated from the township between 9pm and 10pm yesterday evening. South Taranaki District Council staff were assessing a number of flooded houses before allowing people to return.
Powerco said in Waverley and Waitotara, flooding and fallen lines had cut power to about 170 properties, and in Taranaki, three areas have supply cuts.
The Uruti Valley has been affected by slips and trees, which have lowered lines. It was not known when full supply will be restored.
At Strathmore in eastern Taranaki, faults workers were working to reconnect about 136 properties.
Powerco urged people to stay clear of any fallen power lines and phone Powerco's emergency number on 0800 272 727.
Meanwhile, there were many disruptions to the highway network in the region.State Highway 3 north was now open after earlier being blocked by a slip near Uruti.
SH3 south from Hawera to Whanganui has reopened but was down to one lane in many places.
Civil Defence Emergency Management advised people to take care when driving due to slips and flooding on local roads.
People were also advised to stay away from beaches, rivers and streams until Tuesday because of potential contamination as a result of heavy rain and flooding.
Ministry of Civil Defence activates Crisis Management Centre
In its latest update, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said it had activated the National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington this morning to be ready to support regions affected by flooding.
Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, Sarah Stuart-Black, said although rain had eased, some rivers were only expected to start receding by early afternoon today.
"We remain in contact with Civil Defence Emergency Management groups throughout the event.
People are advised to watch council websites for detailed updates on the situation, as well as the New Zealand Transport Agency website for the latest information on the status of state highways."
The weather had improved in Whanganui and it was expected to remain settled for the next 48 hours.
Water levels were expected to start receding in the early afternoon and assessment of properties along the river have been delayed in the meantime.
Between 200 and 250 people were evacuated from their homes and many more people self-evacuated, while around 100 homes were affected on Anzac Parade.
It was possible that some of these homes would remain inaccessible until Tuesday. There were also slips on Anzac Parade, which needed to be assessed by geotechnical professionals before the road could re-open.
Meanwhile, assessments were underway in the Rangitikei region. A number of homes were flooded in Marton last night and 25 people stayed in the Civil Defence Centre overnight.
A helicopter was sent to Koitiata, where there was no cellphone coverage and landlines were only working intermittently.
Around eight people needed to be evacuated from the Manawatu area overnight, and water contamination was expected due to power loss to sewage pumps.
In Levin and Foxton there were also a number of evacuations overnight. As more rain was expected between 6pm and midnight in Horowhenua today, the area would be monitored.
Schools out for students in Marton
Students at Marton School will get at least one day off class this week thanks to the floods.
An administrator posted on the school's Facebook page this afternoon that the school would be closed tomorrow due to the flooding. Staff had originally hoped to ward off floodwaters with sandbags.
"A big thank you to our lovely community for helping to sandbag the school, fingers crossed that this rain let's [sic] up soon," an administrator posted yesterday.
The school signed off today's update with well wishes to families. "We hope that everyone is safe, please take care out there!"
Rangitikei District Council has warned locals to be careful on the roads as they receive more reports of land slips and road fallouts.
"We have 5 crews working around the district and responding to these as quickly as we can," the council posted on its Facebook page early this afternoon.