Desperate scramble for accommodation as devastating floods leave hundreds homeless in Westport

Authorities in Westport are scrambling to find accommodation for hundreds of people who can't return to their flood-damaged homes.

The associate housing minister, Poto Williams, surveyed the damage on Wednesday and says plans are underway to build a temporary village.

Alex Menzies' first home is destroyed by floodwaters, a red sticker on the front window showing it might need to be demolished. 

She puts on a brave face as she surveys the damage inside.

"It's just strange seeing everything you own out on the footpath."

She's lucky to have family to stay with, but it's tough seeing all her belongings and hard work ruined.

"Just devastating... You put in so much work and every last little drop of cash into it." 

Lorraine Williams' house is also damaged.

She doesn't have family to stay with, and spent the first four nights at the Salvation Army. She's now in a motel, but has no long term solution. 

"It's hard watching your pension just vanish out the door type thing," she told Newshub. 

Pensioner Jack Collin is in the same boat. He's staying in a hostel and eating at the evacuation centre each day.

"It's acceptable... if I had electricity at the house I could cook toast."

Authorities need to find accommodation for about 300 people whose homes are badly damaged or completely ruined by the flood. 

But there is already a housing shortage in Westport, and Mayor Jamie Cleine worries it will be hard to find enough places for people to live.

"It's going to be tight for a while or so, at least a fortnight."

Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams spent the morning surveying damage and shaking hands.

Before giving locals a helping hand - she activated a temporary accommodation service.

"There is a site for a potential temporary village, which we might bring porta cabins on to, there is stock around the country.

Many of the streets in Westport are covered in soggy carpet and ruined furniture as people begin to clear their homes.

As the mud starts to dry things are starting to smell and people say the reality is setting in.

"It's been a long few days," says Menzies.

And there are many more to come, as the Mayor says Westport's recovery from the flood could take up to five years. 

It's a recovery hindered by more bad weather as a heavy rain watch is in place until 1pm on Thursday.