31 Jan 2023

Watch live: Update on storm and flooding from Auckland Emergency Management

3:21 pm on 31 January 2023

] People are being warned to "get ready" as weather forecast to hit the north of Aotearoa progresses as expected on Tuessday afternoon.

Auckland Emergency Management has given an update on the situation in the region, which has suffered days of extreme heavy rain and flooding.

Four people have been killed in the floods to date, after record amounts of rain fell at the weekend.

MetService is forecasting more heavy rain, particularly in the city's north, later on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said the warnings were on track.

"For Auckland and Northland, we are not seeing non-stop rain. As expected it is lines of heavy rain coming in bands."

"For Auckland north of Orewa, the red warning does not start until 5pm tonight ... we do expect impacts in the overnight period - slips, flooding.

"For the rest of Auckland ... and including Great Barrier Island, we are on a orange warning. The rainfall totals forecast are not overly large, but this warning is in place for localised, heavy falls overnight, kicking in from 8pm in the north and later further south through until about 10am Wednesday.

"If you live in Auckland south of Orewa, we expect the impacts to be quite isolated - pockets of impact ... The key thing for people south of Orewa is that not everyone will see impacts. If you live in an area that is in a red warning you should expect to see some impacts overnight."

Those in the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty west of Kawerau including the Rotorua lakes district, Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga city, should "go and have a look at what the weather warnings look like. They kick in a bit later on but get ready".

Back in Auckland, those on the eastern coastline north of the Waitematā Harbour should expect a wind watch to kick in overnight.

While wind gusts were not expected to be too strong, MetService was "expecting some tree throw over roads or powerlines in the tonight - overnight period because we are just so saturated".

Auckland Emergency Management media briefing during the Auckland storm on 31 January 2023.

Auckland Emergency Management's Rachel Kelleher, National Civil Defence's Roger Ball, Superintendent Shanan Gray, MetService's Georgina Griffiths and Auckland Transport's Sarah Bryant at a media briefing on 31 January. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

National Civil Defence director of emergency management Roger Ball said in Northland the regional emergency co-ordination centre had been activated and NEMA had deployed three staff to help there.

In Waikato, the regional emergency co-ordination centre and local emergency operations centres had been activated. In the Bay of Plenty, CDEM was monitoring the situation closely, Ball said.

The Beehive bunker also remained active, Ball said.

He asked people to follow the advice of local emergency management groups.

"Please stay alert, reach out to whānau and friends. It's about your personal preparedness but it's also about our community resilience together."

An emergency management mobile alert for the Auckland region - for areas under the red and orange warnings - was issued after the conference.


Superintendent Shanan Gray said it was important to acknowledge those who died in the floodwaters and their whānau, as well as staff involved in those incidents and the wider response to the weather event.

He urged people to be safe, travel only if necessary and ensure journeys were planned before leaving.

"If you do come across heavy flooded areas as part of your travel, we suggest you don't try and forge through due to unknown dangers within that water."

Police have been deploying reassurance patrols in communities heavily impacted by the weather.

"Police acknowledge we have had some burglaries in both residential and commercial premises.

"It's really disappointing to see the opportunist and I suppose selfish type of offending that brings people to these type of offences, particularly in vulnerable locations."

One person was arrested and another was warned at a commercial place in Wairau Valley, where a vehicle with stolen goods was found.

On Tuesday morning, police arrested four people after a burglary at Pt Chevalier - three were referred to Youth Aid and an 18-year-old was facing charges.

Transport impact

Auckland Transport spokesperson Sarah Bryant said Aucklanders should go home early to avoid the afternoon heavy rain.

"Across the region there is potential for slips and floodwaters to disrupt travel and make some roads impassable."

There was lower than usual traffic volumes on Tuesday morning after warnings for people to avoid travel ahead of the heavy rain forecast.

"That helps ease the pressure on the transport network and that will help later today."

Since Friday, 82 roads had to be shut - 35 were still closed, 47 have been re-opened. Thirty-two traffic lights went down on Friday and 30 have been restored - the remaining two were still being powered by a generator.

For information on road closures, check AT's website.

The rail network was running well, but significant speed restrictions were in place, with up to 20 slips reported on the network.

Adverse weather on Tuesday afternoon may impact ferry schedules.

Guidance and advice

Evacuations centres will be set up for people needing to seek shelter overnight, at the Wellsford District Community Centre, Warkworth Town Hall. People should bring essential items with them - like medication or any special food requirements.

Pets can be taken to Civil Defence centres if owners are evacuating and have nowhere else to stay - but for example, dogs should be on a leash, and ideally muzzled.

Cats should be in a carry case to keep them safe or away from other animals.

Skip bins to pick up waste from the weather are also being organised alongside community groups. Use gloves to handle any items affected by the floods, as it may be contaminated from sewage overflows.

Auckland Emergency Management controller Rachel Kelleher asked people to secure any property or items outside with strong wind forecast.

Watercare has increased sampling in the network and found no safety issues with drinking water. Tankers are still being provided in West Auckland, with intermittente outages in the area while repairs are underway.

For financial assistance, contact the Ministry of Social Development on 0800 400 100 for Civil Defence payments - they can help with accommodation costs due to evacuation, loss of income due to flooding, emergency food, clothing or bedding.

Check RNZ's live updates here for more.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs