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Community recovering as emergency leadership fronts Auckland Big Clean Up

Jade Nicholas at the Acts of Roskill Kindness drop-in centre.

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Jade Nicholas at the Acts of Roskill Kindness drop-in centre.
Photo: Amy Williams

School’s back in Auckland this week but for hundreds of families and some businesses forced out of homes and buildings due to flooding, it is far from a return to normal.

Twenty roads remain closed, while a dozen restaurants and at least one hotel are also shut due to flood damage.

Now into the second week of the emergency response, berms are still laden with sodden household furniture and flooring as the clean-up continues.

Scraping off the water-damaged paint on his front wall, Jimmy Gin and his wife Sandra have been filling a skip and cleaning for days.

He said their tenants had found temporary accommodation, but the house was red stickered.

“Cleaning up the rubbish, [it’s a] very big job. We’ve been here over seven days.”

Further west, the flooding took out all the furniture and flooring in 20 classrooms at Green Bay High School.

As well as lesson prep, principal Fiona Barker said teachers did some heavy lifting to help get the school ready for the year 9 pupils to start today.

“For us the damage was furniture and floor coverings and all of that will be fixed up in the school holidays, we do have a bit of lino work as well, but thank goodness we are able to use most if not all of those classrooms.”

Barker said the students had coped well with the uncertain start to the school year.

“There’s a bit of resilience there. After the years of Covid the students just rolled with the start of the year and everything’s looking pretty great and positive.”

Auckland Emergency Management has helped 276 households find temporary accommodation – the same number of homes have been red stickered, deemed too dangerous to enter.

Another 1500 homes have limited entry.

Auckland City’s top leadership have split the work of the flood recovery.

Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson fronted the media as the face of what the city is calling The Big Auckland Clean Up. She wore a T-shirt to match.

Mayor Wayne Brown said he would be heading a longer term Big Auckland Fix Up, aimed at making sure the city was ready for future events due to climate change.

Desley Simpson and Wayne Brown

Photo: Supplied

Both the mayor and deputy mayor said the council would have to revisit its budget in the wake of the floods. It already has a near $300 million hole in its finances.

A dozen restaurants in the city and surrounding suburbs are closed after flooding damaged their dining rooms and kitchens.

Among them, Fort Street restaurant Cassia, owned by Sid and Chand Sahrawat.

“It’s devastating, both of us are really down. We had one flood and now it’s the second time, it’s unbelievable it’s really hard.”

She said they had temporarily relocated to a room at another restaurant.

For many households, the clean up continues.

Local leaders have set up an emergency hub and drop in centre at a community centre in Mt Roskill, where people affected by the flooding can collect donated clothing, furnishing and toys for their children.

Jade Nicholas was overseeing donations today.

She said those coming in for help were facing uncertainty, alongside a cost of living crisis.

“People are just unsure of what’s to come. People are nervous and afraid and parents are stressed [about] where they’re going to live and school’s just started up. It’s been one thing after another.”

This Saturday the Acts of Roskill Kindness are holding a working bee, asking for anyone who can to come along and help.

“We’ll be going out into the streets just door knocking, helping our own families out that are struggling and need the extra hands to help out.”

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