23 Feb 2023

Watch - Auckland Emergency Management gives latest Cyclone Gabrielle response update

2:23 pm on 23 February 2023

Watch: Auckland Emergency Management has provided its latest update on Cyclone Gabrielle recovery in the region.

Duty controller Rachel Kelleher says from today, the stand-ups will be paused and instead a written statement will be provided.

MetService meteorologist James Millward says Auckland has come off the back of much drier weather and lots of sunshine which has helped to dry out the soil.

He says today there will be a few more showers which could be accompanied by thunder out towards the east in Great Barrier this evening.

"They aren't expected to be too heavy and will be quite brief."

He says showers will get a little heavier tomorrow in Auckland and thundery through the afternoon and evening.

"There is a risk of some highly localised downpours through the afternoon and evening."

A heavy rain watch has been issued for Auckland from noon tomorrow until 10pm.

"It's worth keeping an eye on that tomorrow morning ... the risk is quite widespread across the region."

The good news is that there is some sun on the radar for Saturday and into the early parts of next week and not much rain at all.

"At least until mid-week we're looking relatively good."

Millward says we do need to look towards the tropics but at this stage there is no real risk.

Kelleher advises residents to keep an eye on the forecast and keep up to date with any changes.

"Rain in areas that have slips, that [the slips] could be reactivated."

On isolated communities, Kelleher says welfare support is on the ground in Piha and Muriwai and lifeline utilities are coming back online throughout the region. This includes power restoration in parts of Karekare. Supplying essential goods to Karekare is also continuing, she says.

The estimated time for power restoration for Riverhead, North Shore, Coatsville and Albany areas that are without power is Friday (24 February). This date also applies to areas in Rānui, Scenic Drive, Kaukapakapa and Langholm.

Muriwai, Kumeū and Waimauku should come back online on Saturday, however, the target dates are dependent on no further issues arising.

On waste solutions, Kelleher says as of this morning 15 drop off facilities are open to take flood-damaged waste.

Bethells Beach, Piha and Rodney a priority for road repairs

Auckland Transport chief engineer Murray Burt says its focus is on restoring access to local roads. He says they are trying to do this as quickly as possible.

"Our teams have visited 1300 slip sites to assess damage and to determine next steps."

Bethells Beach, Piha and Rodney are being pioritised.

In total more than 130 roads were fully or partially closed due to the severe weather. As of today 75 percent of these roads have been reopened while 30 roads remain closed.

"At this point of time it's critical we reconnect our communities who have been hardest hit by the storms.

"As a result some projects have been paused as we direct resources."

"There is a mammoth task ahead of us and we want reassure our communities that work is underway," Burt says.

He says access to some West Auckland communities that were affected by the cyclone is compromised and reminds people to stay away from those areas.

The Piha road will be closed to everyone other than residents and emergency services this weekend and emergency services from midday on Friday and a cordon will be set up.

On Piha, he says: "we need to respect that community". He says that includes staying away and going into the water is not safe.

Repairs have started on Bethells Road and he asks people again, to stay away.

He says Auckland Transport has set up a recovery website and people can get up-to-date information about their communities on it.

Red-stickered properties

On accessing various properties across the region, many Aucklanders who have red placards are keen to know when they can get back into their homes.

Kelleher says they are working on plans for re-entry.

She says authorities are on day 28 of the response and Civil Defence centres remain open for people needing shelter.

People who are still in need of temporary accommodation are encouraged to use the Ministry of Business and Employment website or call the helpline on 0508754163.

Auckland Council's director of regulatory services Craig Hobbs says in just over three weeks, teams have completed 6906 building assessments across Tāmaki Makaurau.

As of 11am today, 357 homes have received red stickers due to the flooding, yellow stickers are on 1943 buildings and white 3179.

Hobbs says the focus is on giving people the clarity on what condition their property is in and protecting Aucklanders by determining whether a building is safe to occupy.

In relation to Cyclone Gabrielle, red placards total 217, there are 218 yellow and 907 white placards.

Just to recap: White means a home can be used, yellow means restricted access and red means entry is prohibited.

Hobbs says anyone with a placard on their property, needs to make their insurance company the next point of call.

On the Normandy Rd Shot Tower in Auckland, which has resulted in some people being evacuated, progress is being made and the top part is gone, he says.

"We're hoping to have that completed by Monday, looking to get people back into their homes, hopefully just after Monday."

Wellbeing advice

Te Whatu Ora group manager of community wellbeing, Jo Chiplin, says it's completely normal to be feeling all sorts of emotions in these uncertain times.

"Whatever you're feeling right now is completely normal and it's ok," she says.

People should focus on the short term and reach out to someone, she says.

"You can call or text 1737 at any time to speak to a trained counsellor."

Plans are underway to boost mental health support in the hardest hit areas.

"New Zealanders are strong and resilient and we come together in times like this," Chiplin says.

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