The belt of rain that caused Auckland’s wettest day on record moved south on Sunday, leaving more devastation in its wake.
But with more rain forecast for the city overnight, Auckland Emergency Management issued an alert to Aucklanders’ mobile phones shortly before 8pm warning of the potential for “very high intensity, localised downpours”.
Both Auckland Region and the Waitomo District are under states of emergency, with four deaths related to the flooding now confirmed.
Here’s a wrap of everything you need to know.
MetService says a slow-moving low is expected to remain to the northwest of the upper North Island until Tuesday, before beginning to move south.
Heavy rain warnings are in place for Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula until Monday, with localised downpours of 25 to 40mm/h possible in some areas, the forecaster said.
There are also severe thunderstorm watches in place for Northland and Auckland until 10am on Monday.
Auckland 530pm: An active line of thunderstorms has formed over the Hauraki Gulf. Get ready for localised DOWNPOURS with high intensity rain rates 20-40 mm/hr NOW until dawn tomorrow. North of the Bridge + central Auckland, may see totals next 12 hours 50-90mm, risk of 150mm ^GG pic.twitter.com/oapAwUc8E9
— MetService (@MetService) January 29, 2023
The forecast rain and thunderstorms could make driving conditions hazardous and cause rivers and streams to rise rapidly, MetService said.
Further south, severe thunderstorm warnings are in place this evening for Upper Hutt City, South Wairarapa, Manawatu, Tararua, Kapiti-Horowhenua and Wairarapa.
Four fatalities confirmed
A fourth victim of the Auckland flooding was found on Sunday, police said.
Search and rescue personnel found the body of a man about one kilometre downstream from where a person went missing after being swept away by floodwaters in Onewhero on Friday.
While formal identification was yet to be completed, it was believed to be the missing man.
Earlier on Sunday, police also released the name of the person whose body was found in a culvert on Target Road, Wairau Valley, on Friday evening. He was local man Daniel Mark Miller, 34.
RNZ also understands that the man killed in a Remuera house collapse on Friday was a beloved volunteer at MOTAT museum, Dave Lennard.
Friends are paying tribute to him on social media.
Stuff reported that Lennard, in his 80s, was much loved at MOTAT.
“He was one of those guys who could make anything and teach himself how to use new equipment with ease,” friend Evan James told Stuff.
Another person, who is yet to be named, was found dead in the early hours of Saturday morning, after police were called to a flooded carpark on Link Drive, also in Wairau Valley.
Deputy PM – ‘We do have each others’ backs’
Speaking on Sunday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni said it had been “incredibly heartening” to see the way Aucklanders had helped one another out since Friday’s unprecedented weather event.
“We do have each others’ backs, it’s been so incredibly heartening to see the mammoth community impact first hand,” she said.
Individual housing assessments were being undertaken by agencies, with an eye to supporting the most vulnerable in Auckland, she added.
“I really want to reiterate that support and shelter is there for people and whānau in need.”
She encouraged those who needed aid to call the Ministry of Social Development’s support line on 0800 400 100.
Auckland’s mayor responds to emergency response criticism
Auckland’s mayor said lessons had been learned following the region’s highest ever rainfall over 24 hours, which left four people dead and forced hundreds of people out of their homes.
Wayne Brown had been criticised for not calling a state of emergency earlier on Friday night.
In a press conference on Saturday, he went on the defence, saying the response to Friday’s storm took a lot of concentration, happened quickly and the response was much quicker than people believed.
He said then that he followed the advice of the professionals when deciding whether to declare an emergency.
But during a visit to a community hall in Māngere on Sunday, Brown said emergency managers may have made some incorrect decisions.
With forecasts of more heavy rain this afternoon and tonight, I’ve headed to @AucklandCDEM’s new emergency hub in Māngere to inspect preparations. It’s great to see how well the community has responded to support our emergency personnel.
— Mayor of Auckland (@MayorAuckland) January 29, 2023
At a press conference, Fire and Emergency’s Ron Devlin said the organisation had received upwards of 3000 calls in the past 48 hours.
He acknowledged the “tremendous” impact the storm had had on Aucklanders and praised the fire-fighters who had carried out rescues and responded to the many emergency incidents.
They would continue to support those who needed help and were bringing in extra crews from around the country, he said.
Crews would also be sent up to Northland given the bad weather forecast there, he added.
Damaged roads, infrastructure
Several highways remain closed in the upper North Island and Waka Kotahi said flooding was continuing to cause problems on some motorway off-ramps.
Roads with closures include:
- State Highway 1 at the Brynderwyn Hills in Northland is closed from the intersection with SH12 to Waipu.
- SH1 between Port Marsden Hwy (SH15) and Marsden Point Rd.
- SH2 between SH25 and SH27.
- SH25 between Coromandel and Whitianga. The section of the highway between Thames and Coromandel is open under stop-go traffic management.
- SH25A, which links the two coasts of the Coromandel Peninsula.
- SH37 at Waitomo, between the roundabout at SH3 and Fullerton Road.
Watercare said many of its waste water pump stations had been flooded, causing damage to electrical components.
Its chief operations officer, Mark Bourne, said some smaller sites had been repaired but two large pump stations on the North Shore were badly damaged.
After asking North Shore residents to reduce their water usage “until further notice” on Saturday, Watercare tweeted late on Sunday that people could once again use their washing machines.
North Shore customers, you may use your washing machine. We’d suggest doing a full load ‘cos that’s the most water-efficient. Our only request is, please be mindful of your water use and conserve water when and where you can. Click here for all updates https://t.co/KdgA2RU4Lx
— Watercare (@watercare_nz) January 29, 2023
Community spirit kicks into gear
Across the city, people volunteered their time to help as clean-up efforts got underway.
Among those rolling up their sleeves at the Ellen Melville Hall in the central city was pop star Lorde.
Lorde helping out with the response to the flooding in Auckland NZ. She visited a support centre today and dropped off supplies [via Green Party Member of Parliament Chlöe Swarbrick’s fb]. Good on you Ella! pic.twitter.com/eLpantFAVy
— Lorde fix (@Lorde_fix) January 29, 2023
The High Street site is offering showers, washing, hot food and other support services for impacted residents.
Airport reopens but disruptions remain
Auckland Airport reopened after its international terminal was inundated with water on Friday but its chief executive said it could be several days before flight schedules returned to normal.
Carrie Hurihanganui said 1000 travellers were expected to be able to depart on rescheduled flights following a frustrating two days.
Anniversary Day event cancelled
The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta was cancelled as the clean-up continued across the city.
In a statement, the regatta committee said it had taken the “difficult decision” on Sunday morning to cancel the 183rd Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta.
“With strong winds and heavy sea state forecast tomorrow, plus reports of substantial debris in the harbour from the rain, and emergency services already stretched dealing with the effects of the flooding, the safety of everyone is our number one concern,” it said.
Other events that had already been cancelled included Auckland’s Laneway Festival and Tauranga’s two-day One Love festival.
Civil Defence centres
Those who need to evacuate their homes and who cannot stay with friends or whānau can go to one of the following:
- West Auckland: St Leonards Road School, 15 Saint Leonards Road, Kelston
- North Auckland: Massey University Albany Campus, Sir Neil Walters Lecture Theatre, Massey University East Precinct, Albany Expressway SH17
- South Auckland: Mana Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive, Randwick Park
People are asked to bring any essential items they may need with them, e.g. medication, warm clothing, and baby items.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz