Weather: Fears of possible housing crisis in Westport after weekend flooding

Buller's Mayor says some residents could face lengthy stints out of their homes as the clean up gets underway from the weekend floods.

There are hopes some Westport residents will be able to return to their homes on Monday after many were forced to flee their properties at the weekend. About 1000 were accommodated in evacuation centres overnight. 

But some displaced residents told Newshub on Sunday there's little rental accommodation available in the town and feared a housing crisis.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine said officials were working on accommodation options for people who won't be able to return home.

"Certainly, the rental property market is very limited," he told The AM Show. "We're trying to avoid a crisis so there's certainly a lot of planning going in to the available accommodation and exactly how that's handled." 

In the wider district, Cleine said one of the main concerns is what lingers in floodwaters - with residents warned to stay away from it due to potential contamination.

"There are a number of houses that will be all cleared later today and they'll be able to go home, but there's going to be a significant number that will be damaged - some beyond repair and others that will have a big clean-up ahead.

"The town [Westport] I guess is very anxious and concerned - I think once we get some people back into their houses, that obviously allays some of their concerns. 

"By the end of today hopefully, we'll have some clarity for some people on their accommodation options - that's probably the main level of anxiety - and get these welfare centres sorted out."    

States of emergency remain in place for both Buller and Marlborough. John Leggett, the Marlborough District Mayor, said 900 residents were evacuated at the weekend but were slightly more fortunate than Buller.

Leggett told The AM Show evacuating people was a "very difficult decision" to make.

"We make it for the right reasons - it's about safety. We've managed to get everyone back into their homes other than a small pocket."

Roads remain closed throughout the top of the South Island - including State Highway 65 between SH6 and Spring Junction and SH6 between Renwick and Tophouse in the top of the South Island, and SH6 between Inangahua and Westport and SH6 between Murchison and Inangahua, the NZ Transport Agency said.

The Government said on Sunday it would contribute $600,000 to help residents affected by the floods.