The sun was shining as contractors in their high-vis jackets, hard hats and boots worked their way around Kaiaua today.

Yesterday was a completely different scene, as storm surges and strong winds damaged the coastal town.

Residents on East Coast Rd were badly affected with saltwater and debris flowing into properties.

Despite all the damage, most were in high spirits.

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David Leigh has been associated with Kaiaua since the 1960s - his father was a schoolteacher there.

Never before has he witnessed anything like what happened.

The closest thing the part-time local has seen to this was a flood in 1996 - back then, water barely reach the steps of the house.

Yesterday, high tide and strong easterlies hit the Kaiaua coast with it large waves.

Leigh first noticed water running down his driveway around 9am - and high tide was still an hour and a half away.

Truus Maitland was on her deck when the Herald arrived.

Maitland said their chest-freezer was washed down to the back of their property as water flooded the property.

Her front yard, which was once grass, is now inundated with shells and sand to a level of 40cm.

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Richard and Joanna Foster have spent time holidaying at their property for the last 12 years.

The Fosters said there was plenty of warning from civil defence, but they too have never seen anything like this.

Water levels reached as high as one metre and even uprooted their garage floor.