Residents in flood-stricken Marlborough have been advised they can return to their homes.

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Residents in Marlborough who were evacuated yesterday due to the flooding Wairau River have been informed they may return home.

Residents of Tuamarina, Spring Creek, and the Lower Wairau can return to their homes starting at noon.

Some people from other locations, however, would have to wait until two helicopters check the status of the roads and waterways.

Evacuees can now retrieve their vehicles that have become stuck on SH1 between Picton and Blenheim. Police will also retrieve stranded automobiles if the owner cannot be found or the vehicle is damaged.

State Highway 1 including the Wairau River bridge was expected to re-open from midday.

SH6 between Renwick and Havelock is not expected to open until mid-afternoon at the earliest.

SH63 is not expected to re-open for some days. Many local roads are still closed.

More than 900 people from 500 properties in Marlborough were warned yesterday to leave their homes as the region was hit by its largest flood on record.

The Wairau River overflowed its banks at Tuamarina, Renwick and Spring Creek.

Marlborough District Council deputy mayor Nadine Taylor earlier said the river stopbank was being inspected to make sure conditions were safe.

“The river has gone down but it’s still raging and we want to make sure that stopbank, that we’ve full confidence in it before we let those other residents go back in,” she said.

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Taylor urged people to keep in touch with authorities as they start to return home.

Incident controller Richard Coningham had said the district council’s engineers would use helicopters this morning to assess the damage along rivers and on roads.

MetService forecaster Andy Best said more rain, possibly heavy, was expected in Marlborough from this afternoon but conditions were expected to ease from tomorrow.

Aerial footage shows the extent of flooding in Marlborough.

Aerial footage shows the extent of flooding in Marlborough. Photo: Marlborugh District Council

Tasman District Council said while some rain is forecast this afternoon, it is not expected to cause any concern.

State Highway 6 across the Tākaka Hill reopened this morning. However, SH6 into Nelson from Blenheim is still closed between Renwick and Rai Valley.

Further south, State Highway 6 from Kawatiri Junction to Murchison and State Highway 65 through Shenandoah are closed due to multiple slips.

The Transport Agency says contractors expect to open a route through to Nelson via state highways six and 65 by the end of the day.

Flooding shut off portions of the West Coast and the top of the South Island yesterday, and states of emergency were proclaimed in Buller and Marlborough.

In the Buller area, almost 1000 people spent the night in evacuation centres, and at least 100 homes were inundated.

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This morning, a further ten Defence Force troops from Burnham Military Camp were dispatched to outlying stranded regions.

Fourteen defence troops are already on the ground assisting with emergency coordination and relief efforts.

This afternoon, a Defence Force helicopter will take to the skies to check on residents living in remote regions of Buller.

Flood recovery efforts in Westport are in full swing, as river levels recede.

Soldiers are helping local emergency staff to identify and cordon off flood-damaged parts of the town as hundreds of evacuees wait to hear when they can return home.

However, authorities say there are still risks from contaminated floodwater and electrical hazards.

Buller mayor Jamie Cleine said extensive damage was likely to be revealed throughout the district.

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Buller mayor Jamie Cleine Photo: Supplied

Half of Westport’s residents had been told to evacuate their homes because of the threat from overflowing rivers.

Cleine said some residents face a long road to recovery in the flood-struck region.

More than 2000 people in the district are unable to return to their flooded houses, where polluted floods pose a health concern.

According to Cleine, it will be a significant occasion for some residents to endure.

He anticipates that many residents would spend another night in the evacuation centre because they are still being advised to stay put.

Tresca Forrester, journey manager at Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, said personnel had been out since first light evaluating road damage, checking bridges, and cleaning debris from blocked and flooded roadways.

Access to some cut-off communities, like those in Westport, through to Golden Bay, had been re-established, with the SH67 Buller Bridge, SH60 from Collingwood to Riwaka and SH6 from Hira to Rai Valley all re-opened, she said.

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