A group of Auckland concrete contractors pumped five million litres of water from two floors of underground carparks this week, as flooding wreaked havoc across the city.
Around 100 vehicles were submerged in the Parnell building, as the contractors emptied the equivalent of two Olympic swimming pools of water into the city’s stormwater network.
The apartment block is located on Ronayne Street, where the remnants of severe flooding were everywhere to see. Silt covered the pavement, neglected cars sat waiting to be towed, as contractors in hi-viz operated loud machinery.
RNZ spoke to Harlem Mckenzie, who runs Mckenzie Concrete Pumping. He was hard at work alongside the three others, sucking water from a flooded apartment building.
They’d been pumping at the location for three days, after two floors of underground carparks had been completely submerged.
“So normally we pump concrete, but we pump concrete in the other direction. Today we’re sucking the water out to the street and trying to drain these car parks.
“We estimate maybe 5,000,000 to 8,000,000 litres of water [was in the carpark], it’s really hard to tell.”
Mckenzie laughed as he recalled the last time he used his machine to pump water, for a much smaller job.
“I’ve used it a couple of times to drain my spa. It’s not something we normally do.”
Out the front of the apartment, the water was being pumped out via long attachments, which stretched from the underground carparks all the way up two flights of stairs, out the entranceway and onto the street.
“We’ve got four pumps here. We estimate we’re removing about 130,000 litres per hour.
“These pumps aren’t really designed to do this. They don’t take as much as the proper water pumps, but they do the job. As you can imagine, every water pump in Auckland is booked out at the moment, so it’s very hard to get the proper unit.”
Mckenzie said the pumps, which operated for 12 hours at a time, were being put through the wringer.
“It’s a lot of wear and tear on the gear, cause you’re running the pump without concrete in it. It’s not really ideal.
“We’ll do it for a few days, see what happens. You know it’s costing us a bit of diesel, and diesel’s not cheap these days.”
And before he got back on with the job, the nonchalant Mckenzie had some parting advice for Aucklanders to better prepare for extreme weather events.
“Make sure your drains are cleared. Get in those cesspits or get someone to lift those grades up and just get everything. Clear all the silt and leaves, all that sort of thing, because it’s all gonna help.
“And if the council can get out there with some hydro Vac guys to worry about the main storm water, that’s going to help things along.
“Obviously we’re living in a fairly antiquated system, we’ve got a lot of extra housing around as well, so I think the system is not really coping too well. But I’m just a concrete pumper, what do I know?”
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz