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Live: Auckland's wastewater network 'overwhelmed'; heavy rain tracking to Bay of Plenty

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 May 2023, 11:31AM

Live: Auckland's wastewater network 'overwhelmed'; heavy rain tracking to Bay of Plenty

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 May 2023, 11:31AM

Auckland has been battered by torrential rain this afternoon with sections of the city still flooded and the motorway network in gridlock - as a severe thunderstorm warning has tonight been declared for western Bay of Plenty.

The city remains in a state of local emergency tonight after flooding swamped the region.

Auckland Emergency Management Duty Controller Parul Sood said despite the significant rainfall, emergency services coped well with today’s events.

”Fire and Emergency New Zealand reported around 280 flooding-related callouts. By 6pm this evening, just five of those remained active. Police reported more than 250 weather-related jobs between midday and 4.30pm.”

MetService said the rain should move over Bay of Plenty tonight, but the weather could remain changeable elsewhere.

”Showery conditions are forecast for many places on Wednesday and Thursday as colder air starts moving over the country.”

Mayor Wayne Brown signed the State of Emergency declaration around midday today.

Brown, who has delegated powers to his deputy while in Australia on business, said the decision to declare a precautionary state of local emergency was based on the lessons learned from the Anniversary Auckland floods.

 “I am urging Aucklanders to remain calm but be vigilant. Please stay away from floodwaters and open drains.”

A Civil Defence Centre has been opened in West Auckland where flooding and slips have left roads blocked and created hazardous driving conditions for the second time in a matter of months.

In an update to residents this afternoon, Watercare said Auckland’s wastewater network is “overwhelmed” with rain causing overflows across the city.

The council-controlled organisation says a slip has burst a water main in Warkworth and crews are on their way to repair it.

Auckland’s tap water remains safe to drink.

Streams and rivers across the region burst their banks and schools and daycares were evacuated or closed early. State Highway 1 at Dome Valley and the Brynderwyn Hills is now closed.

In Whangārei, an hours-long rescue operation has been suspended for the evening after a school group caving at Abbey Caves got into trouble. One student is still missing.

Whangārei Boys High School board of trustees chairman Andrew Carvell told Stuff it was a “very traumatic situation for [those] involved.

”We’re hoping for a positive outcome,” Carvell told Stuff.

”At the moment it’s a tragic situation and we need to deal with what’s in front of us. We anticipate there are going to be questions. I think those questions are reasonable questions to ask.”

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called the latest flood episode “a serious situation” in Auckland. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency was regularly updating travel information and people should check before travelling.

Auckland Minister Michael Wood came to the city this afternoon.

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty this afternoon made a ministerial statement to the House in Parliament, detailing the “severe and concentrated rainfall” impacting Auckland and Northland today.

He said the National Emergency Management Agency had activated the National Crisis Management Centre to assist in co-ordinating resources and supporting the locally-led responses from Civil Defence groups.

McAnulty urged people who didn’t feel safe to evacuate to higher ground.


Flooding on the Northwestern Motorway in Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Flooding on the Northwestern Motorway in Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

MetService has issued a tranche of orange heavy rain warnings and watches across the country: In Northland from 7am today to 7pm and Auckland, Coromandel and Great Barrier Island from 9am to midnight today.

This morning Bay of Plenty, Canterbury High Country and Rotorua were all upgraded to an orange heavy rain warning.

Already sodden Nelson-Tasman is under a fresh warning of 130mm possible between 6am until 11pm. Marlborough could see 100mm in nine hours until 4pm.

The South Island’s Grey and Westland districts could see upwards of 350mm in the 36 hours until 9pm today and Fiordland north of Doubtful Sound could get 160mm in 24 hours until 1pm. Orange heavy rain warnings are in place.

A heavy rain warning is also in place about Mt Taranaki from 9am to 9pm, where 100mm could fall in.

A heavy rain watch, where rainfall amounts could reach warning levels, was issued in Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, north Taranaki, Buller, and the headwaters of the Otago Lakes - all to lapse by 9pm today.

Nema director John Price today warned people to take care, be prepared and avoid unnecessary travel.

“Given the amount of rain that has already fallen we want people to be aware that there is an increased possibility that there could be landslides,” Price said.

“If you are driving be alert to areas of collapsed roading or slips of mud and rocks.”

The National Co-ordination Centre has been partially activated by Nema to assist response organisations and Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups around the nation in their reaction.

“This is a widespread heavy rain event, and NEMA is engaging with CDEM Groups to ensure they have the resources they need,” Price said.

“The Government stands ready to help the affected regions, some of which were badly hit during recent severe weather events in various parts of New Zealand

“We are in this together so check on your neighbours, friends and whānau.”

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