Jan 28, 2023
Auckland Grapples With Flood Damage, Braces for More Heavy Rain
(Bloomberg) -- Aucklanders are braced for more heavy rain just a day after New Zealand’s largest city was hit by a severe summer storm that left at least four people dead.
The city experienced its wettest 24 hours on record over Friday evening and Saturday, resulting in widespread flooding around the city of about 1.6 million people. Police confirmed Sunday that a fourth person had died after the body of a man swept away by floodwaters was found.
“Over the last 24 hours we’ve come to realize the true significance and impact of the flooding, not only in people’s homes but their livelihoods,” Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni said at a press conference in Auckland Sunday. “What we saw on Friday was unprecedented and I acknowledge that there will be a lot of emotions and uncertainty that comes with being displaced.”
Another weather system, known as an atmospheric river, is forecast to bring more heavy rain to the upper North Island, research institute NIWA said in a tweet. The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for the area.
Atmospheric rivers are thin jets of air that move moisture beyond the tropics — a phenomenon that caused a series of deluges in California from late December to early January, killing at least 17 people and flooding cities and towns.
Auckland Airport reopened for international arrivals and departures Sunday morning, with a Jetstar flight leaving for Sydney just before 7 a.m. local time. An Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles was the first international arrival.
The airport was closed after a record 249 mm (9.8 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours, flooding buildings and causing significant damage to ticketing, baggage and processing equipment. The domestic terminal reopened on Saturday.
The airport said more than 1,000 travelers were still waiting at the international terminal Sunday, with Chief Executive Officer Carrie Hurihanganui cautioning that it may take some time for services to return to normal. More than 1,000 meals, 500 blankets and hundreds of water bottles were given to passengers Saturday, with families and elderly sleeping overnight at the Auckland Airport Marae, a traditional Maori meeting house.
Meanwhile, an investigation is underway after an Air New Zealand Boeing 777 “briefly lost directional control” while landing at Auckland Airport during the storm on Friday. There were no reports of injuries.
Auckland Emergency Management officials are working to secure fresh water supplies around the city and assessing flood damage to property, with more than 5,000 homes needing to be examined.
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