Nearly 400 families are out of their homes in Westport, Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says, as flooding at the weekend left properties uninhabitable.
Community meetings have been held to brief locals on how the response to the weather event is going as the town faces a critical shortage of beds, with some people having to leave town to keep a roof over their heads.
Cleine this morning told Breakfast it could be weeks or months until some people can return home.
"There's about 300-odd yellow stickered houses, so presumably that pretty much means they've all had water through so that'll certainly be carpets and what have you, and there's about 70-odd that are red strickered so they're severely damaged and some of them may well be irreparable, we're not sure yet.
"You're getting up towards 400-odd houses worth of carpet and probably furniture I would think."
Westport's population is about 4500, Cleine added.
He said, despite the "logistical nightmare", the clean up was "progressing pretty good", though.
"Today we've got the major logistical exercise of collecting all the solid waste - that's the carpets, furniture and fridges and what have you - off the berms around Westport, so that gets under way today and will continue until about Sunday," he said.
"It'll be good to get that under way and get Westport tidied up a bit."
Cleine said the region has had some days of sunshine, but more rain is forecast.
However, he added everyone was "banding together" in the community.
"We're trying to keep the messaging going to keep everybody informed."