Hundreds of people have joined an army of volunteers to help clean up flood-stricken Edgecumbe over the Easter weekend.
The volunteer initiative has been organised by Ngāti Awa, district and regional councils, Red Cross and Māori wardens.
Civil Defence volunteer coordinator Pim de Monchy said about 490 people had registered to help, including some from Auckland and Kaikōura.
He there was a lot of work to do.
"Removal of rubbish, trees silt and so forth from outside properties. Secondly, if the residents would like us to come inside and help with that then there'll be things like removing carpet, damaged books, household items, things like that.
"And potentially also helping with the removal of gib board around the lower part of people's wall so that timber in the walls can start to dry out.
Mr de Monchy said more volunteer opportunities would arise when water and power services were restored.
Edgecumbe flooded after a low following the end of Cyclone Debbie brought heavy rain to much of the North Island, causing a breach of a stopbank on Rangitāiki River next to the town last week.
Another low, followed by Cyclone Cook, also moved through the region this week and prompted evacuations and a state of emergency in the entire Bay of Plenty region.
Despite warnings the Cook would be worse than any storm since the Wahine disaster in 1968 however, damage around the country was largely limited to slips and downed power lines.
About 170 of the 1600 residents who had been evacuated from Edgecumbe since the initial flooding were allowed to return to their homes yesterday, but some houses are seriously damaged or even uninhabitable.
Another 229 Edgecumbe residents will be able to return home today, though most of them will not be able to stay.
Residents of a nest of streets south of Edgecumbe College were expected to be allowed back into the flood-hit area from midday, but most of their houses were yellow-stickered - seriously damaged and not safe to live in.
The water supply was working again for much of the town, but the district council asked people to use it sparingly, as the network remains fragile. A boil-water notice remains in place. Tankers were providing drinking water for people bringing their own containers.
Whakatāne district mayor Tony Bonne said the clean-up may take months.
"We've got a big volunteer contingent ready to move into Edgecumbe," he said.
"There's been a number of skip bins put throughout Edgecumbe getting ready for this cleanup, there's professional people to make sure nobody gets contaminated.
"I think the community's really looking forward to helping out their fellow people that are worse off than them."
Some Edgecumbe residents were, however, frustrated by the way the council had managed the evacuations of flood-ravaged homes.