Frustrated Edgecumbe residents vented their anger at being shut out of their town at an intense public meeting on Saturday night.
But there was a measure of relief on Sunday for some people who live in the drier areas of the flood-ravaged Bay of Plenty township, as they were allowed behind the cordon to visit their homes for the first time.
Most of the residents who got in were allowed because their home is now dry - but even though the water is gone, it's left a trail of destruction.
For some, the sight was simply too much to bear.
"It is worse than you could ever think. It's really heart-breaking. I feel sorry for everyone. It's horrible... everything's trashed," resident Rachel Andrews told Newshub,
On the other side of Edgecumbe, tensions boiled as residents living a stone's throw from the cordon were refused access.
"It pisses me off. It's shocking, because we know it's fine. We could move back in there today," one frustrated resident told Newshub.
The collective anger came to the fore in a community meeting held in Whakatane on Saturday night, with residents demanding answers.
Whakatane mayor Tony Bonne admitted in a media conference on Sunday morning that the meeting was handled poorly, but moved to reassure residents that officials are on their side.
"We've got a fantastic team here, and a lot of them are standing behind me now. [They're] working damn hard to try and get people back into their homes."
And with the first groups of people granted access today, the rest of Edgecumbe will be hoping they get their turn in the coming days.