Hawke's Bay farmers fear more bridges, land and infrastructure will be wiped out because the region's rivers haven't been maintained by the regional council.
They have been urging the council to act for years because every time it floods it's causing major damage.
Along the Tukituki River, huge chunks of earth and native trees have tumbled in, along with 80-year-old totaras and hectares of farmland.
And the nearby Waipawa River has washed out the State Highway 50 bridge, and dumped river gravel over $200,000 worth of paddocks.
It's damage that locals have been warning the Hawke's Bay Regional Council about for years, as they've been trying to get their rivers cleaned up.
"What really annoys me is the fact that it could have been avoided," said Ongaonga farmer Paul Franklin.
Councils across the country have historically planted willow trees along river banks to control their path. But as the trees self-seed and spread into the riverbeds where gravel banks up around them, it forces the water to divert.
When big floods fill the rivers, like in Cyclone Gabrielle, it's tearing out land and trees.
"I've been telling them about this," Upper Tukituki Catchment Group Chair Hamish Bibby told Newshub.
The Bibby family has farmed alongside the river for more than 150 years, and Hamish is worried about future damage.
"We really just don't want to let the mess bring the trees downstream and take out the next bridge in Waipukurau, and cause problems down further. We can see what's coming," he warned.
He's one of many locals fed up with what they say is a lack of action from the regional council, that's resulting in their riparian plantings and native trees being lost.
"What we're trying to maintain is our biodiversity, and we're losing it," Bibby said.
They want to be allowed to spray the stray willows and extract gravel from the river to help guide the water back to its original bed.
Tukituki farmer Mike van der Burg has been asking the council for permission to fix it himself but that's been declined.
"Had this been done previous to Cyclone Gabrielle, I don't think we'd be having this problem here now," van der Burg said.
A problem that's costing him time and money.
"We need the council to come up and take care of the riverbed," he said.
It's exactly the same story on the nearby Waipawa River, where willows and wilding pines are pushing it sideways.
During Cyclone Gabrielle the river sliced off tonnes of land and damaged $200,000 worth of paddocks on Paul Franklin's farm.
"It's devastating when you farm it for so many years and then you lose it," Franklin said.
The river also destroyed two bridges, something Franklin has warned the council about before Cyclone Gabrielle.
"I said, 'If you don't do something with this pile of shingle out in the middle of the river, we're going to lose our bridge'."
With his farm now cut in half, he's had to wade 400 pregnant cows through the river that were stranded on the other side.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council wasn't available for an interview but said in a statement it spends about $900,000 a year on the Upper Tukituki Flood Control Scheme.
"This includes activities like mowing, spraying, tree management, regrowth spraying, pest plant management, willow and native planting, track maintenance and fencing," said a spokesperson.
However, those living and working in the upper catchment disagree.
"There's been nothing done out there for, you know, 40-odd years", said Franklin.
The council has a gravel extraction scheme in place for the area and said it's aware of "significant" issues with woody debris and silt in the region's rivers.
"Regrowth of willows located in channel areas has been identified as an issue to manage by HBRC. Trees do however have an important role in edge protection minimising flow velocities and protecting the river edge and/or stopbanks so we need to ensure that the right trees are being targeted."
Locals are warning that more damage is inevitable unless something is done.
"We need urgency on this," Bibby said.
Because the river will keep being pushed out of its natural riverbed by stray willow trees and gravel buildup.
"It's coming into country where there's not been a river before."
Forest and Bird wants a complete rethink of how councils manage rivers. Their freshwater advocate, Tom Kay, said rivers need more room to flood because they've been hemmed in by stop-banks and willow trees.
"Councils have constrained rivers. They've put stock banks in on the side of them, but not just where the rivers were. They didn't put stop-banks out wide where the river had a nice wide bed," Kay told Newshub.
That's evident from archive images of river beds.
Several large rivers burst their banks on the East Coast in Cyclone Gabrielle, flooding homes and putting people's lives at risk.
Kay said New Zealanders living behind stop-banks had a false sense of security.
"It's not the river's fault. It's really actually our fault in many ways. We've tried to change these rivers and they're pushing back."
He said the change can't be undone, so councils must keep managing the systems they've put in place, such as willow trees and stop-banks.
"They can't just walk away," Kay said.
However, Kay also believes that ultimately councils should be moving people away from rivers.
"They need to be thinking, how do we live with this river? And that means backing off in a lot of places," Kay said.
"Councils don't have a huge amount of money to then buy extremely highly-priced land and we have relatively entrenched land rights as well. So we need to come up with something as a system that will work for the whole country."
A hard task when so many Kiwis live and work alongside rivers.