Auckland Council has blasted body corporates who tried to obstruct the process to demolish a historic tower in central Auckland threatening to topple after Cyclone Gabrielle.
About 50 residents in apartment blocks near the Mt Eden shot tower were evacuated last Monday as the cyclone approached the city and are expected to be out of their homes for at least another week while the work is carried out.
Auckland Council’s Director Regulatory Services Craig Hobbs says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has approved the demolition of Mt Eden’s shot tower.
”We have been advised by MBIE that Minister Megan Woods has given approval for the shot tower to be demolished,” he said.
“Work will begin tomorrow (Tuesday) and our contractors expect it will take approximately seven days to complete.”
At today’s Auckland Emergency Management update, Hobbs called out body corporates for resisting the process.
“They’ve done their residents no favours,” Hobbs said.
In Auckland, 356 houses have been red-stickered following the city’s Anniversary Weekend flooding and 202 after Cyclone Gabrielle.
Residents who were evacuated as Cyclone Gabrielle hit Auckland last Monday won’t be able to move back into their homes until the works are finished, Hobbs said.
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Residents near the Shot Tower on Normanby Rd in Mt Eden are frustrated by delays in getting back into their homes. Photo / George Heard
Families with nowhere to go
Syliva Duda is one of the evacuated residents. She told the Herald last week she had to move out to her parents’ home with her partner and six-month-old baby.
She understood many others were doing it tougher, but said it was frustrating the Government had known about the problems with the tower for a long time and done nothing.
She feared hundreds of dollars worth of food in her freezer could have perished and said her husband had evacuated with just one pair of pants.
Others from the complex were less fortunate.
“There’s a lot of families and a lot of immigrants who don’t have families here that they can stay with,” Duda said.
One neighbour with a three-month-old baby had been forced to stay on the floor at a friend’s house, she said.
However, there was no room for her husband to stay at the same house.
“So, families are being separated,” Duda said.
She also said one of her neighbours was crying during a group Zoom call with residents last week, claiming Auckland Council staff had gone into her bedroom, picked up her baby and put it into a capsule to speed up the evacuation process.
However, the council’s Hobbs denied this.
He said there was only one occasion in which staff entered an apartment during the evacuation.
He said the staff member was not a compliance officer but a trained welfare person, and they only entered at the request of a resident asking for help.
Hobbs said he was ultimately unhappy with the approach taken by two of the apartment complexes’ body corporate contractors.
“I’m really upset about the way that they’ve approached this - not working with Council, but working against us,” he said.
He acknowledged the council’s communication could have been better, but said his team had also busy dealing with more than 2000 significantly damaged homes across the city.
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