29 Jan 2023

Deputy PM Carmel Sepuloni on flooding response: 'We do have each other's backs'

2:30 pm on 29 January 2023

Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni says it has been "incredibly heartening" to see the way Aucklanders had helped each other out over the past few days.

Sepuloni and Transport Minister Michael Wood have provided today's government update on the ongoing state of emergency in Auckland.

Watch the press conference here:

Sepuloni thanked the many organisations and people that have jumped in to help.

"We do have each others' backs, it's been so incredibly heartening to see the mammoth community impact first hand," Sepuloni said.

She said over the past 24 hours the true significance and impact of the flooding - not only in peoples' homes but in their livelihoods - had been realised.

The priority is making sure Aucklanders are safe, she said.

Auckland's contact centre answered hundreds of calls today and yesterday. Civil Defence payments have also been activated, with case managers at all three Auckland evacuation centres there to help support, she said.

Sepuloni said individual housing assessments were being undertaken by agencies, with an eye to supporting the most vulnerable in Auckland.

"What we saw on Friday was unprecedented and I acknowledge there will be a lot of emotion and uncertainty that comes with being displaced," Sepuloni said, noting she and Minister Wood had seen this first-hand.

She encouraged people to ring the Ministry of Social Development's support line on 0800 400 100 if they needed aid.

"I really want to reiterate that support and shelter is there for people and whānau in need."

Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni at the Civil Defence Centre set up in Saint Leonard's Road School in Kelston, on 28 January, 2023.

Photo: RNZ/ Rowan Quinn

Sepuloni said that communication has been good from her point of view.

"Certainly what I'm seeing is a high level of coordination. It's not just about Auckland Council or government."

Wood said that in a very quick space of time, groups had to come together and get good, consistent information out to communities.

Follow all the latest news with RNZ's live blog here.

Wood said a high number of roads have been affected by surface flooding and slips.

"Crews are working around the clock to assess and fix damage to the state highway network."

Wood extended a special thank to Waka Kotahi staff who have been working tirelessly to get roads open around the country.

"We can't help the adverse weather, but we can do as well as we can to work together by being patient, that will help others."

He said one state highway had 48 truckloads cleared of debris.

There will be a long-term impact from the storm on roads, Wood noted.

"Waka Kotahi continue to update their social media channels regularly," he said.

Britomart is being pumped out of water, Wood said, and ferries have been busier than usual.Auckland Airport is now back and running for international flights but the schedule will take some time to normalise.

"Auckland Airport is asking for patience as we work to get systems up and running patiently," Wood said, and that only people with a flight booked today should come to the international terminal.

Flood relief at the Mangere Memorial Hall.

Flood relief at the Mangere Memorial Hall. Photo: RNZ/Angus Dreaver

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