Upwards of 30 residents in Auckland’s Arkles Bay pitched in on Monday morning to clear debris clogging a pipe and dislodge a beached pontoon.
The community effort, which residents confirmed took roughly three hours, was initially focused on dislodging a pontoon that had been washed ashore by Cyclone Gabrielle, after its anchor came loose.
Residents arrived with chainsaws to cut away at trees that blocked a pipe needed for drainage, then the work began to clear the pipe by hand of seaweed and debris.
Arkles Bay local Merryn Straker said the sandbagging efforts around the bay have just concluded.
Residents arrived with chainsaws to cut away at trees that blocked a pipe needed for drainage. Photo / Supplied
”It’s pretty windy on the front, we live one street back and I guess the rain hasn’t been as bad as we expected yet,” she told the Herald.
Water has breached the shores and made its way on to properties, however, Straker said it’s not so much flooding as a “tidal surge”.
“The wind has been charging through the beachfront and the damage is the sea coming over the grass and on to the properties,” she said.
”But it’s not like the flood damage we had the other week.”
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She praised the locals’ efforts and said it’s to be expected during times of weather crisis.
Merryn Straker praised the locals' efforts. Photo / Supplied
”From a community point of view, we’re helping clean as much as possible. There’s lots of people impacted, you gotta pitch in.”
Whangaparāoa, of which Arkles Bay is part has been transformed by gale-force winds overnight.
John Longson told the Herald he spent last night listening to the howling wind and crashing seas “petrified” for himself and his family.
They live one street back from the sea in Arkles Bay, and Longson said the cyclonic winds battered the house all of yesterday in a constant gale.
“In the evening it just intensified and got worse – the wind didn’t stop at any point.”
The threat of the high tide at 1am was “quite concerning”.
A large kauri tree which washed up on the beach overnight. Photo / John Longson
When the Whangaparāoa man awoke in the morning, he was shocked to see the wind had carried boulders up from the ocean and strewn them over the beach and street and the whole beach had changed.
“The elevation of the sand and the topography is all changed – it’s quite high, with sand at the back with drops and channels all carved out... Dead trees have turned up, one looks like a kauri tree which is one and half metres wide in circumference.”
Boulders have washed up on the shorefront and are now littering the streets – as well as a large tree which has split and fallen on two houses.
Cyclone Gabrielle caused havoc across the top of the North Island overnight, with thousands of homes losing power, schools closing and trains, ferries and flights cancelled in the Auckland region.
Gabrielle is just off the northeast coast, creating waves over 11m high in the Bay of Islands. Widespread power outages are affecting households and businesses in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel.
Over 29,000 households were without power in Northland on Monday morning.
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