New Zealand’s largest city braces for more rain and flooding
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Residents in New Zealand’s largest city were bracing Tuesday for another deluge and more flooding, four days after Auckland endured its wettest day on record in a storm that killed four people.
A state of emergency was in place for Auckland, and officials had closed schools for the week and were asking people to work from home if possible. Heavy rain was expected from Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning.
“This rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding,” said Auckland Emergency Management Controller Rachel Kelleher. “Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.”
Emergency officials said some 200 homes and businesses around the city were assessed after the floods as too unsafe to enter.
“So that gives you an idea as to the damage to buildings and across the community,” said Ron Devlin, the region manager for Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown warned there was more danger ahead.
“My team’s current focus and our big worry is that some Aucklanders might think the worst is behind us, but it isn’t,” Brown told reporters.
On Friday, the amount of rain that would typically fall during an entire summer hit in a single day. At one point on Friday evening, more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain fell in three hours.
The four who died were all men — a retired teacher who was swept away by floodwaters, a 34-year-old who was helping residents before being found dead in a culvert, a 25-year-old who had been kayaking in the floodwaters, and a father whose home was hit by a landslide.
Brown said up to 12 centimeters (almost 5 inches) more rain was forecast in some areas that were already waterlogged.
“That’s nothing like Friday night, but the ground is so saturated and the drains are so full that if anything, it could be more dangerous than even Friday,” Brown said.
He said it had taken time for people to realize how big the rain event had been and it wasn’t finished. “It was well beyond even what our emergency people either imagined or planned for,” Brown added.
The Northland region, north of Auckland, also declared an emergency Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of the deluge.
Auckland Airport has warned that flight schedules may be disrupted for several days.
Associated Press reporter Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.