Flood-hit Aucklanders prepare for Cyclone Gabrielle

6:08 am on 10 February 2023

As Aucklanders prepare for the arrival of Cyclone Gabrielle, food parcels and other help was being given out to flood-weary families at community hubs. Photo: RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati

Aucklanders have an anxious few days ahead as they wait for what could be another massive storm for the city.

Cyclone Gabrielle is likely to hit Northland on Sunday before heading towards Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula - which could both get a month's worth of rain in a day.

Auckland's state of emergency has been extended ahead of the forecast extreme weather.

It comes as flood weary communities continue to deal with the devastation from just a fortnight ago, and 335 families remain in temporary housing.

In Mayfair Place in Henderson smashed fences, ruined clothing and broken furniture are strewn around the cul-de-sac. The suburb was one of the worst hit in the floods with neck-high water ripping through houses.

One local woman, who doesn't want to be named, said it was heart wrenching each time she stepped outside. Hers was one of the few homes that had not been condemned.

The council was urging people to clear debris off the streets before the next storm, but she said the contaminated items were a health risk and should be cleared by authorities with proper protective gear.

"It's dirty water, even my grass alone is kind of dangerous," she said.

"I don't really know what's happening, I don't see any help happening soon ... [an assessment] doesn't get things physically done when we are due for another warning."

Mayfair Place, Henderson was one of the streets hit by flooding.

Mayfair Place, Henderson was one of the streets hit by flooding. Photo: RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati

The disaster meant she was on high alert for what might be coming next.

"It makes you more aware and where to look and what to look for, to do with weather. It makes you more interested in how it works so that you can be more prepared," she said.

"I'm talking MetService ... even measurements, you want to know."

Over at the Henderson Civil Defence Centre, the Village Community Services Trust was one of a dozen organisations which had been flat out helping people.

Chairman Sir Michael Jones said they were stocking up on groceries in case more people were forced to leave their homes when the storm hit.

"Making sure that we do have an evacuation centre ready, it can't just be a school ... It's got to be a properly set up facility," he said.

"But then it's how quickly can you mobilise the people and the organisations."

Sir Michael Jones says the Henderson evacuation centre is preparing for the upcoming storm Photo: RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati

Emergency management officials were now working on setting up more evacuation centres.

The Henderson one had just had its busiest day yet, giving out 90 food parcels and dealing with more than 150 people looking for financial help.

The Henderson Civil Defence Centre.

Clothes were available for people who were in need. Photo: RNZ / Soumya Bhamidipati

Mark Allen from Community Waitākere said with more atrocious weather on the way, they were trying to make sure they could keep up with the demand.

"We have concerns about the weather storm that is approaching," he said.

"We're waiting to hear soon about what the decisions might be around that, potentially shifting location to a site that can cope if there is an extension of new people who are needing assistance."

Meanwhile, the woman living on Mayfair Place had had her house assessed for structural damage, the wiring had been checked and she was making sure her phone and other devices were all charged. This time, she hoped to be better mentally prepared as well.

"Just knowing that everything's working, knowing how well I did, like when you go through any type of trauma you're just more mentally prepared, but you don't want to go overboard, you know, you don't want to get lost."

She, like many others, hopes Cyclone Gabrielle gives the city a miss.

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