3 Feb 2023

Auckland's state of emergency extended for another week

1:11 pm on 3 February 2023
Devonport Golf Course is under water after flooding in the Auckland region on 1 February.

Devonport Golf Course under water after flooding in the Auckland region on 1 February. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Based on advice from Civil Defence authorities, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has formally extended the local state of emergency, but expects it will be lifted early.

The mayor was advised at 9am today by Civil Defence Emergency Management, to extend the state of local emergency.

He considered the advice and signed the declaration at 11.30am, ahead of the existing declaration expiring this evening.

While the rain has eased up somewhat, a week on from the record-breaking downpour that caused widespread damage across the city, it continues to fall.

"We are hoping for a better weekend so we can continue the clean-up, but there is still a bit of bad weather on the way today," Desley Simpson, the deputy mayor, told RNZ's Morning Report.

The city is "fully waterlogged", its infrastructure struggling to handle the ongoing wet weather.

"Even the areas that are designed to carry water and hold water," Simpson said. "We've got aquifers underneath Eden Park that are challenged… we're doing as much as we can. We're just hoping that this rain is temporary."

Despite the ongoing conditions, building assessors have managed to inspect about 3500 homes across the region.

So far about 200 have been red-stickered, meaning they're off-limits, and nearly 800 yellow-stickered. The most red-stickered areas are Mt Albert/Mt Eden (54) and the North Shore (32).

"We think we'll have the majority of rapid building assessments we need to do completed by Sunday, but that's really only the beginning of the process," Auckland Council general manager building consents Ian McCormick told Morning Report.

These two homes on Scenic Drive in West Auckland's Swanson have beene given red stickers following wild weather that has caused dangerous slips and widespread flooding.

These two homes on Scenic Drive in West Auckland's Swanson have been given red stickers. Photo: RNZ / Mohammad Alafeshat

He said it was the second-largest operation of its type ever conducted in New Zealand, after the Christchurch quakes.

"I reached out to colleagues from Hamilton and Tauranga. By Saturday we had inspectors from Hamilton and Tauranga arriving, and we've subsequently had staff turning up from Dunedin, Wellington, Otorohonga, Christchurch, all around the country."

Next week his team will be getting in touch with homeowners whose properties have red or yellow stickers, checking what their plans are and whether they need any assistance or advice.

"There's a lot of flooding… sodden carpets, potentially electrical systems being affected, impact on internal wall linings… cases where the floodwaters have lifted houses off their foundations.

"And of course then we've got situations where there's been landslips which have impacted on houses, sometimes with fatal consequences."

Simpson said the mayor was getting advice on whether to extend the state of emergency, and a decision would be released later on Friday.

Even if the state of emergency is allowed to expire on Friday evening, council building staff will still be able do what they need to, to ensure affected properties are safe.

The Auckland region on Monday was "designated" under the Building Act 2004, giving the council "a number of powers that may be exercised in respect to all buildings within the designated area", including entry, ordering evacuations and directing works to be carried out.

As for Mayor Wayne Brown's claim hundreds of people were trapped in high-rise buildings due to broken lifts, Simpson said her "understanding is Auckland Emergency Management are not aware of anyone trapped".

Asked if the mayor was misinformed, Simpson said she didn't think so.

"Look, I think the mayor lives in a multistorey apartment himself and his lift isn't working, so I think he has a personal experience of that. But I just don't know any further details."

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