A further crisis is looming for the evacuated residents of Edgecumbe.

Whakatane motels are filling up with Edgecumbe's evacuees but, with any return home uncertain and the Easter rush around the corner, many fear they can't house people much longer.

Some motels were offering discounted rates, even as demand increased, saying they just wanted to help where they could.

At the Landing Motel three groups of evacuees were staying and everyone was feeling very stressed about their homes, relief manager Cheryl O'Driscoll told the Herald.


One couple lived right next to the Rangitaiki River stop bank which failed yesterday, flooding the town and forcing thousands of residents to flee.

When the couple saw the images of the flooded town on the news last night, the woman was so distressed she was physically sick, O'Driscoll said.

"They can't get back to their properties and check what's happening. They're definitely stressed."

The Landing was offering evacuees discounted rates for rooms.

"You've got to try and do your bit and look after people," O'Driscoll said.

Edgecumbe remains under police cordon and is likely to remain under water for another day, officials have said.

Defence Force personnel in Unimogs, rescuers in jet boats, and emergency services led the mass evacuation in what the mayor described as a ''one-in-500-years'' event.

Edgecumbe from the air. Photo/ NZME
Edgecumbe from the air. Photo/ NZME

O'Driscoll was worried about where people would stay once the Easter rush took hold, as most rooms were already booked.


"There's not much accommodation around, Easter's coming up as well, so that's going to put a lot of pressure on."

The motel was getting a lot of calls from tradespeople wanting rooms for staff coming in to work on the clean up but there wasn't enough room.

Despite the stress the flooding was causing, O'Driscoll was keeping positive.

"We're coping as best we can. We always get through it - that's what Kiwis are good at. Helping out when it's needed."

Both O'Driscoll and Barringtons Motor Lodge manager Sue Burnett said the bulk of evacuees had been taken in, either by friends and family or by people in the community.

Burnett said a few Edgecumbe evacuees had enquired about booking rooms at Barringtons, but not as many as she had initially thought would need to.


She said her boss, the lodge's owner, was an Edgecumbe resident as well and currently sorting out her own home.

At the owner's request, they would be offering discounts to people who need it, to help support the community.

"The owner did say yesterday to say do whatever you can to help out Civil defence or whoever [else needs it]," she said.

They would figure out what they could offer on a case by case basis, she said.

It could be another day until the floodwaters recede. Photo/ NZME
It could be another day until the floodwaters recede. Photo/ NZME

Tourist Court Motel owner Harvey Donald had a couple of flood evacuees book in with him, as well as security guards hired to keep Edgecumbe safe from looters.

At the moment, the Whakatane township motel was operating as usual, though some bookings had cancelled because they were worried about getting in and out of Whakatane.


He said the motel could accommodate those whose homes were flooded for now, but come Easter there'd be no rooms left.

"People wanted extra time but I can't give it to them because we're all booked up."

Peter Baxter, owner of the Livingston Motel, said he still had a few rooms left, but the evacuations had meant the motel was very busy.

"At the moment people are realising how bad the damage is. And there's still people being evacuated today."

Evacuees were hoping to be told at some point this afternoon when they will be allowed to return to their homes.