By the Re: team
Auckland is in a state of emergency after "unprecedented" flooding and rain last night damaged buildings and forced people to wade through deep floodwaters as they evacuated from their homes.
Since then, Aucklanders have been told to stay home if they can and to avoid any travel that's not essential. Yesterday was Auckland's wettest day on record and more showers are expected today and tomorrow.
Here's what you need to know about the Auckland floods:
- A state of emergency was declared late last night by Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, and it will last for seven days. The mayor has come under fire and is facing criticism over how long he took to declare a state of emergency.
- As of Saturday morning, two people have died and two are missing. A man was found dead in a culvert in Wairau Valley yesterday evening and at 12.30am, police were called to a flooded carpark after another man had been reported dead. Police are looking into the circumstances of these deaths.
- Three Civil Defence centres have been set up to help people who have nowhere to go. The centres are in the Auckland suburbs of Kelston, Albany and Randwick Park
- Last night, 2000 people took shelter in Auckland Airport's terminals after flights were cancelled and roads in the area were blocked. As of Saturday 12pm, domestic flights are back on. International flights will be back on later tonight.
- People living in North and West Auckland have been the worst affected. Watercare, the city's water agency has told North Shore residents to reduce water use and water tankers are making their way around suburbs in West Auckland, so locals can fill up their water bottles.
- Around 12.44pm on Saturday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins boarded an Air Force Hercules plane bound for Auckland. Hipkins will meet the mayor.
- Emergency services such as Fire and Emergency NZ have been working through a backlog of calls related to the flooding. They received over 2000 calls last night and new 111 calls were still being received.
What has Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown been up to?
Brown has been criticised for the speed of his response, especially when it came to declaring a state of emergency for Auckland.
He made the declaration late on Friday evening. Before this, he told RNZ: "We need the rain to stop, that's the main issue."
Brown later held a media conference at 11pm and said he could not act sooner because it was a formal process.
He said as soon as he was able to declare a state of emergency, he did that.
“My role isn’t to rush out there with buckets, it’s to be here ensuring that the centre is well-organised and that we are taking appropriate steps at the appropriate time – not rushing into them in response to noise outside.”
Speaking to RNZ this morning, Brown defended his response to the flooding after other leaders, including National Party Leader Christopher Luxon, called on him to declare a state of emergency.
"When the police and Fire and Emergency announced that they were being overwhelmed, that's when they recommended I call a state of emergency. I was following the recommendations of the professionals."
"The decisions are guided from the professional experts in the field - rather than just from Twitter," Brown told RNZ.
"This is an unprecedented event - it'll be interesting to see just how well prepared Wellington is when the earthquake strikes."
What's happening with concerts and festivals?
One Love Festival in Tauranga has been cancelled.
The organisers said: "The rough weather last night and this morning has caused chaos, and there is no sign of it easing up over the weekend. From site flooding, to high winds, to artists being stuck in Auckland, thunderstorms predicted and heavy rain tomorrow as well, we are unable to safely and logistically deliver One Love 2023."
"This, along with the State of Emergency that was declared for Auckland last night has to be taken into account when considering your safety, along with the safety of our artists and crew. A total of 40% of our ticket holders are from Auckland." Organisers said attendees will be refunded.
Napier's Fatboy Slim concert, originally set for tonight, has been cancelled due to weather conditions. It comes after Tauranga's One Love Festival was cancelled earlier.
"Due to the current weather event affecting Napier and the impact this has had on the festival site and its surrounds, Endeavour Live announce the cancellation of the Fat Boy Slim Concert set for Tremain Park tonight."
What are political leaders saying?
At a media stand up held at the Beehive's bunker at 2am, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said: "If you can stay home safely, please stay home safely. Please stay off the roads, please make sure you’re looking out for each other, minimise the movement as much as you can."
"The feedback we’ve had from people on the ground in Auckland is that when the rain hit, it hit very hard and very fast," Hipkins said.
The Prime Minister issued a warning for Aucklanders to brace for more rain overnight.
"Clearly, this is quite unprecedented," he said.
Opposition leader Christopher Luxon said "in time there will be an opportunity to review how the emergency management response was delivered, but for now our immediate focus must be on ensuring all Aucklanders are safe".
Jacinda Ardern, who resigned as PM on Wednesday, posted online about the floods and shared some tips.
"I’m very conscious that it’s been a while since I posted, and there have been a few big things happening," the backbench MP said.
"But today the most important thing is everyone’s wellbeing and safety - especially across Auckland after such a severe weather event."
What happens now?
Aucklanders should continue to stay home if they can and avoid non-essential travel - many roads and public transport services are still blocked throughout the region.
MetService says the red heavy rain warning for Auckland has lifted but rain is still expected today and tomorrow.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Andrew Clark said the "situation has stabilised significantly" in the city this morning.
The focus has shifted towards assessing the damage and how many people have been displaced.
The Auckland will be visiting affected communities in the next few days.
If you need support and tips, here's what to do
- If it is safe to, stay home and shelter in place.
- If your life is at risk, dial 111 immediately.
- Check on friends, neighbours and family members – but do not put yourself in danger to do so.
- Do not drive through flood waters and keep off the roads and out of flood zones.
- If you plan to evacuate – make sure you take essential items, like medicine, with you.
If you need welfare assistance: Call the Ministry of Social Development on 0800 400 100.
For shelter, there are three Civil Defence Centres open:
- Saint Leonard’s Road School, 15 St. Leonard’s Road, Kelston
- Massey University Albany Campus, Sir Neil Waters Theatre, Gate 1/Main Entrance (off Albany Expressway), Albany
- Manu Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive, Randwick Park
Banner image: A picture of flooding from yesterday in Auckland. Photo: 1News
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