New Zealand flooding: three dead and one missing as Auckland hit by record rainfall | New Zealand
Torrential rain in Auckland has left three people dead and another missing, police said on Saturday, following widespread flooding in New Zealand’s largest city.
Two were found dead in the Wairau Valley on Auckland’s north shore – one in a culvert and one in a flooded car park, and a third body was found later after a landslide hit a downtown home.
Another man went missing after being picked up in a village south of Auckland.
New Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited the devastated area on Saturday with his Emergency Minister Kieran Makanulty. Hipkins promised that government support would arrive in the coming days and warned of further bad weather.
He urged Aucklanders to avoid unnecessary travel, stay out of the water and check on loved ones. “At the moment, the focus is on supporting the people of Auckland,” he said.
The city broke all of its rainfall records – 249mm compared to the previous record of 161mm in 24 hours – making the day and month the rainiest on record. A local forecaster said that although the heavy rain has eased, another period of downpours is possible on Sunday.
Makanulty said water tanks are being sent to the area, he said, and residents have been urged to reduce water consumption to reduce sewage levels. Residents in the affected areas were also urged to only buy the food they need, while the damage to supermarkets and food supply services was assessed.
A state of emergency remains in effect in the city of about 1.6 million people on New Zealand’s North Island as rains eased after flooding in the north, northwest and west. Asked to respond to claims that the declaration was announced too late on Friday night, Hipkins said we would not go into “minor” decisions on the matter.
The city council’s Auckland Office of Emergency Management said the daylight revealed the first “true insight” into the impact of the storm, caused by descending warm air from the tropics that caused heavy rainfall and thunderstorms.
“Oakland was devastated on Friday – Oakland’s rainiest day on record – and we are starting cleanup today,” agency duty controller Andrew Clarke said in a statement, urging residents returning home to exercise caution to assess flood damage.
“We won’t start getting a clear picture of the number of casualties until today, and even then it will take time as information is still coming in and there are many assessments to be completed,” he said.
Simon Bridges, chief executive of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, said he expected the cleaning bill to be in the tens of millions, according to local media reports, and called a meeting on Sunday to discuss how to help support the business.
Oakland Mayor Wayne Brown warned late Friday that the cleanup operation would be “a big, big job.”
Flash flooding turned many of Auckland’s roads into rivers on Friday, and stormy weather closed the city’s airport, the nation’s largest, with ankle-deep water at some terminals.
Air New Zealand said its domestic flights to and from Auckland would resume from noon on Saturday and said it was evaluating whether international flights would resume when the international terminal reopens at 5pm local time.
Earlier Saturday, the airline reported that 12 international flights arriving in Auckland were canceled overnight.
Hipkins, who was sworn in on Wednesday following Jacinda Ardern’s resignation, tweeted that government agencies are “working hard” to help.
Hipkins said the National Crisis Management Centre, located below the Houses of Parliament in the capital city of Wellington, is helping to coordinate emergency response.
The incessant downpour has led to the cancellation of Friday’s Elton John concert at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland due to public safety concerns.
Emergency services were inundated with calls for help as civil defense officials warned residents to stay at home.
Auckland residents are urged to contact emergency services only in the event of a “life-threatening” danger.
Together with Agence France-Presse and Reuters