Whanganui remains cut off this morning after the biggest flood on record swept through the city.
More than 100 households were evacuated yesterday, mostly on the eastern banks of the Whanganui River, and hundreds more self-evacuated.
The Whanganui River breached its banks around midnight, spilling floodwaters into Whanganui's CBD.
All bridges over the Whanganui River are still closed, except for the Cobham bridge, and SH3 - north and south of the city - and SH4 remain closed. The flood is a one in 85 year event.Gene Toyne, her husband Chris, and their two dogs, who live in a low-lying area near Wanganui Airport, self-evacuated yesterday afternoon.
Mrs Toyne said they woke early yesterday morning to find flood waters lapping around their house. They spent the morning moving their livestock and valuables to safe areas.
"We sat down for a cup of coffee around 1.30pm, because we hadn't stopped all day, and in less than half an hour the water was coming through the floor."
The couple had just enough time to grab some clothes, some wine and their dogs and waded out through waist-deep water. Mr and Mrs Toyne spent the night with family in Whanganui East, and were hoping to return today to collect some more belongings.
"I'm dreading what we will find there," Mrs Toyne said. Sixty households evacuated from the South Taranaki township of Waitotara last night.
Four families also had to be evacuated from the Waitotara Valley. Two were helicoptered out, while two are still awaiting rescue Whanganui residents are waking up to the city's biggest flood in recorded history.
About 200 people have been evacuated from 100 properties while a large number of residents have also self evacuated.
A state of emergency was declared in Whanganui late yesterday afternoon with Taranaki and Rangitikei following.
The Whanganui River spilled over into the city overnight and breached stop banks along Anzac Parade.
Horizons Regional Council recorded the Whanganui River reaching a peak of 9.1 metres at Town Bridge at 3am, with a flow rate of 4,690 cubic metres per second.
This morning water covered Taupo Quay and up to the lower part of Victoria Ave and parallel streets. CBD streets were blocked at Ridgeway St from Market Pl.
Members of the public have been coming in town to observe the damage but have been turned away from the water's edge and extra cordon tape has been put up.
Horizons incident controller Michael McCartney says it has been a challenging night in Whanganui as flood levels exceeded the flood protection standards for parts of Whanganui.
"Surface flooding is expected to recede as river levels drop. Thankfully the weather forecast is looking up but we're aware as people return to their properties there is going to be a big clean-up to face," Mr McCartney said.
Many properties will not be able to be accessed until Monday at the earliest and it is more likely to be Tuesday before people can return to their properties as they will need to be cleaned and limed due to sewage contamination.
Evacuated areas will continue to be cordoned off and the cordons will be manned.
In addition, Police mobile patrols are on duty throughout the community.
The Whanganui River level seems to have stabilised and no significant increase in flooding is expected. However, it is likely to take all day Sunday for the roads to clear of floodwater.
This morning Merservice lifted the heavy rain warnings for the central and lower North Island.
Social media pages have been set up coordinate clean up and volunteering efforts.
The Dublin Street Bridge is open to emergency services only.
The City Bridge is closed until a structural assessment can be done.
Whanganui Police are asking people not to try to travel south on State Highway 3. They will not be allowed through the cordons except in a real emergency.
Residents are asked to conserve water and to treat all flood waters as contaminated.
Wanganui District Council are holding a media briefing at 9am.
Rangitikei has also been hit hard by flooding with rural fire crews and the Army last night preparing to evacuate the isolated village of Koitiata.
Rangitikei District Council and Civil Defence staff are now assessing affected properties in Marton. Council is checking water and wastewater systems and the roading network across the district.
More to come.