Residents of the small Hawke's Bay settlement of Rissington who have been flooded twice in three months say their lives are at risk unless a stopbank is built and the river is cleared of debris to prevent it from happening again.
Torrential rain caused the Mangaone River to burst its banks on March 8 and again on 12 June, flooding several homes and properties.
Warren Allison's home was flooded in the first event, and another home on the property where his grandchildren lived was flooded twice.
They had only just finished cleaning up from the first flood when the second one hit, he said.
"It was all cleaned out and ready to be relined, ready to start again. But I'm reluctant to start again until we get the safeguards as the second one hit us hard."
He wanted Hawke's Bay Regional Council to help the community build a stop bank where the river had breached or he worried their homes would become uninsurable.
In both floods, the river burst its bank in the same spot, just below the Mangaone Bridge, on an access way owned by the regional council, he said.
"I've lived here for 40 years and it's never flooded, until now."
His grandchildren had just left for school when the first flood hit and within 20 minutes the water had risen to waist height, he said.
"Had that happened at night we may have never gotten them out."
After the first flood he said the regional council had told him they would not pay for a stop bank.
"We accepted that first time round, but now it's a completely different situation. Twice in three months is unsustainable."
Local businesses Hawke's Bay Contracting and McCutcheon Transport had already offered to donate time, materials and machinery to help them build a stop bank but they still need the council's help and approval to do so, he said.
His next door neighbour David Fellows had also been flooded and said the regional council needed to be more proactive about the amount of debris that was in the river.
The first flood hit his step-son's house next door and left it uninhabitable. His own garden and barn was flooded twice.
The river was often blocked by large trees and debris which he believed may have built up and have exacerbated the flooding, Mr Fellows said.
"We don't mind paying an extra levy to the regional council to ensure it keeps the river free of debris," he said.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council said it could provide advice on stop bank options but it would not pay the full cost because it was not in a flood protection scheme area.
"Council may contribute some part of the costs but it would not be a significant portion. The landowners have been advised to write to council and put their case," manager Gary Clode said.
The council did not consider debris in the river to be a "significant cause of flooding", he said.