The 11-person family that were earlier trapped in their cars as floodwaters rose in Eastern Bay of Plenty have made their way to safety.

The people from Taneatua, south of Whakatane, evacuated from their homes around midnight when they were surrounded by floodwaters in Reid Road.

Whakatane District Council spokesman Ross Boreham said the family were able to make their way to another building on their property that had not been affected by flood waters early this morning.

"They are all safe.

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"They will just hunker down until the roads reopen."

Earlier, Taneatua chief fire officer Laurance Richardson said their home on Reid Rd in Ruatoki got flooded in and the residents tried to evacuate. The flood waters were too high for the fire crew to access them.

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"They got in their cars but they can't get out and we can't get to them... We probably won't be able to get to them all day.

"When we were speaking to them they were happy waiting for daylight."

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Richardson said the fire brigade had also helped evacuate three or four homes in Taneatua.

He said the crew had been working since 2pm yesterday and were about "ready for a sleep".

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Taneatua resident Sharon Lyford had to be rescued in a tractor's bucket as her property looked like "Lake Taupo" and flood waters enveloped their three vehicles.

Lyford said their Reid Rd house was pretty high but there was water all through it. Her father-in-law came to the rescue this morning.

"We got a bit of a fright. We didn't think it would come inside the house.

"He came up in the tractor this morning and we sat in the bucket and he brought us out.

"It's just too wet, we've got no where to sit and no where to start cleaning up because there's water all around the house."

Lyford had lived there for 21 years. In that time there had been three significant floods she said, but this one was the biggest. She wasn't looking forward to the huge clean-up as silt had made its way throughout the house.