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Auckland flooding: 400 homes without power, 11 rescued after storm

Severe rainfall has hit western parts of Auckland – flooding two drive-through vaccination centres, causing at least 60 homes to be evacuated, and leaving 11 people in need of rescue by Surf Life Saving.

Vector confirmed to Stuff on Tuesday at 10pm that 400 customers in Bethells Beach and Piha were still without power, however the company expected electricity supply to be restored to both areas during Tuesday evening. An update has yet to be issued by the company.

Meanwhile, the MetService has reissued its orange alert for Northland, with up to 140mm of rain expected in some eastern areas.

MetService issued a warning that periods of heavy rain would spread north early on Wednesday morning. Northland could expect 70-90mm of rain to accumulate, with peak intensities of 15-25mm per hour, especially during possible thunderstorms.

On Tuesday night a Vector spokesman said crews had worked through the night and day and had been able to restore power quickly to most outages across the region.

“They remain on site in two areas working as fast as they can to get the power back on.”

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The spokesman said flooding, landslips and downed trees have delayed access to these areas.

“We also had to contend with two trees falling on the line to Piha, the second coming down just as we were about to restore power after fixing damage caused by the first.

Low-lying fast air, seen in orange, has been blamed for flooding in Auckland overnight.

NIWA/Supplied

Low-lying fast air, seen in orange, has been blamed for flooding in Auckland overnight.

Orange alert for Northland reaffirmed

The MetService reaffirmed its orange alert for areas in Northland from Russell south at 9pm.

The forecaster predicted periods of heavy rain from now until Wednesday night, with most areas predicted to get 80-120mm of rain.

Up to 140mm was possible in some places, particularly in eastern areas.

Peak intensities would mostly be 15 to 25mm per hour but rates of 25 to 35mm per hour were possible.

“Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous,” the service warned.

MetService meteorologist Gerard Barrow said residents from Whangārei to Russell should be particularly wary.

“There’s already been 70mm in Whangārei since three o’clock this afternoon,” he said.

The rain band would likely move north as the day went on.

“There is a risk because of the slow moving nature of the rain band.”

Rescuers attend at Tapu Rd in West Auckland on Tuesday morning, rescuing a man for the roof of a shed

Surf Life Saving/Stuff

Rescuers attend at Tapu Rd in West Auckland on Tuesday morning, rescuing a man for the roof of a shed

Scope of damage revealed on Tuesday morning

The extent of the damage became obvious early in the day on Tuesday. By 10am, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, Fire and Emergency New Zealand had attended 370 incidents related to the bad weather.

The emergency situation overrode current alert level 4 requirements around the region, she said.

“The most important thing is keeping people safe. Of course, we understand the situation will mean some bubbles, by necessity will need to join other families simply because they need shelter.”

Eleven people required rescue by Surf Life Saving Search and Rescue (SAR) squads, including a 70-year-old woman from Kumeu.

Staff from the Muriwai Volunteer Lifesaving Patrol and Mairangi Bay SAR squads had been responding since 5.30am.

Surf Life Saving reported flood waters contained hidden trees and fences, which had to be carefully navigated to reach the 70-year-old woman’s property off Oraha Road with an inflatable boat at around 2pm.

Two men aged between 45 and 60 were rescued at around 6.30am morning at Tapu Road.

A West Auckland fire crew uses a kayak to attempt to access a cut-off home on Waitākere Rd.

DAVID WHITE/STUFF

A West Auckland fire crew uses a kayak to attempt to access a cut-off home on Waitākere Rd.

One was rescued from the top of a shed, and lifeguards had to remove grills from the window of another shed to rescue the other. He was waist-deep in water, and had been trapped since 10pm the night before.

The Muriwai SAR Squad rescued a couple, their baby and their dog from a property on Rheingold Place and a woman, her two teenage sons and the family’s two dogs and cat from a property on Pinotage Place.

Welfare checks were performed on residents in Joyce Adams Place, Matua Road, Taupaki Road, Crafer Way, Riverhead Road and Kiwitahi Road, Surf Life Saving said.

Search and Rescue Supervisor John-Michael Swannix said the day’s efforts showed the massive commitment lifeguards had to their communities.

A woman and a working dog move stock out of flooded paddocks in Auckland’s Waimauku.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

A woman and a working dog move stock out of flooded paddocks in Auckland’s Waimauku.

“Even during a global pandemic, we have people putting their hand up to help others and look at the incredible difference they’ve made today.”

A section of SH16 near Bradly Road has been closed due to flooding. Police announced shortly after 5pm that motorists were to follow the directions of traffic management in the area and expect delays.

Waking up to a floating pre-fab

Paul Buckton, a Piha local, woke up to find a pre-fab house floating on the water in front of him.

This happened in 2017, and it was bad, but this one is far worse,” Buckton said.

“Neighbours’ driveways are flooded, there’s footbridges that have been destroyed, it’s just insane here.

“The water is so powerful, it’s like rapids trying to take me out. My dad’s lived here 65 years, he’s said it’s the worst he’s ever seen.”

Places including Helensville, Kumeū, Henderson Valley and Rānui all flooded, prompting an evacuation centre at 6 Henderson Valley Rd to be set up for those forced out of their homes.

In Dairy Flat, north Auckland, Leanne Hackett and her husband woke up to find their horses in floodwater up to their bellies.

“Around 7am I was woken up by a text from my daughter asking if the horses were OK.

Paddocks at Leanne Hackett's Dairy Flat property were flooded overnight.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Paddocks at Leanne Hackett’s Dairy Flat property were flooded overnight.

“I didn’t realise how bad the flooding had been, so I looked out the window and then immediately ran outside.”

Hackett said her property was about 80 percent flooded, and while a small amount of flooding was common in heavy rain, she’d never seen it like this.

“We waded through the water to coax out the horses, because they were stuck.

Leanne Hackett/Supplied

Leanne Hackett, who lives in Dairy Flat, spent Tuesday morning rescuing her horses from flood water at her property

“Two of them are semi-wild, so it was quite a stressful mission.”

The horses were cold and stressed, but Hackett said they were now safe in a paddock higher up on the property.

Bridgestone Kumeū owner Johnny Mills said the flooding was a “kick in the teeth” and just something else he would need to deal with, on top of the Covid lockdown.

Mills’ business was underwater when he arrived early on Tuesday morning.

He’s owned it for six years and worked there a further 30 and said he had never seen flooding like it.

Johnny Mills from Kumeū’s Bridgestone tyre store has a cuppa while standing in flood waters inside his workshop.

Chris Mckeen/Stuff

Johnny Mills from Kumeū’s Bridgestone tyre store has a cuppa while standing in flood waters inside his workshop.

Mills said his workshop floor was full of water, and he could see a rubbish bin floating in front of him.

In Waimauku, a group of farmers waded through flood waters with a working dog seated on a paddle board, as they moved stock out of flooding paddocks.

The flooding meant Auckland’s two drive-through vaccination sites at the Trusts Arena and Auckland Airport park and ride didn’t open until 11am.

A car submerged in floodwaters in Taupaki.

DAVID WHITE/STUFF

A car submerged in floodwaters in Taupaki.

Earlier, Auckland Civil Defence said if people lived in an area prone to flooding they should “be prepared to evacuate”.

“Evacuation overrides any Covid-19 alert level requirements to stay home.

“Stay two metres away from others if you can and if it is safe to do so.

Firefighters received nearly 400 calls regarding the flooding in West Auckland overnight.

Johnny Mills/Supplied

Firefighters received nearly 400 calls regarding the flooding in West Auckland overnight.

“Wear a mask or face covering and take warm clothing, essential items for yourself and your family and any necessary medications.”

The heavy rain was expected to continue throughout Tuesday, MetService meteorologist Stephen Glassey said.

“It’s quite unusual to get this intensity of rainfall, and it’s expected to continue until this afternoon.”

Scott Leith

A couple of men with a jet ski could be seen in the floodwaters on Pinotage Place in Huapai.

Glassey said a heavy rain watch had been in place on Monday, which had since been upgraded to a heavy rain warning.

“This was a tricky one to predict, and the northern and western parts of Auckland have been the most affected.”

Glassey said the heavy rain was due to continue throughout the day and would ease in the afternoon, and clear by the evening.

Waitākere Councillor Shane Henderson said he wanted to share his appreciation for Auckland Emergency Management “who are doing a wonderful job here in West Auckland with the floods”.

Henderson said streets had been evacuated, but reports so far indicated everyone was safe.

“It’s an evolving situation and so far about 60 houses have been evacuated, mainly in the Henderson Valley area.”

Flood water running through a property in Kumeū.

DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Flood water running through a property in Kumeū.

The Henderson Council Chambers were being converted into a makeshift shelter, while police and fire crews were checking on properties in the area, Henderson said.

“If you have to evacuate bring your essentials, a phone and a mask, with you. If you are in danger call 111 immediately, and keep in touch with others in the community,” Henderson said.

New World Kumeū advised customers it would be closed “until further notice” because of flooding and road closures in the area, while Te Atatū Countdown would be closed on Tuesday morning while its roof is assessed.

Stranded stock on a Swanson property following the flooding.

DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Stranded stock on a Swanson property following the flooding.

Road closures:

– SH16 closed between Riverhead Rd & Matua Rd through Kumeū

– Taupaki Rd bridge is closed in Taupaki

– Pooks Rd/Candia Rd intersection is closed in Rānui

– Bethells Rd closed by a slip west of Te Aute Ridge Rd

– Scenic Dr, reports of a slip between Mountain Rd & Piha Rd

– Township Rd, Waitakere, reports of a slip- Wintour Rd is flooded in Waimauku

– Mountain Rd, closed by a slip between Fairy Falls & Turanga Rd in Henderson Valley

– Piha Rd, reports of a slip 2km west of Scenic Dr

– Te Henga Rd, closed by a slip near Falls Rd in Waitākere

– Whatapu Rd, closed by a slip in Huia

– Huia Rd, closed by a slip near Huia Dam Rd in Huia.

The North Piha campground was still heavily flooded at 10am on Tuesday morning.

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

The North Piha campground was still heavily flooded at 10am on Tuesday morning.

On Monday evening, Auckland experienced more than 600 lightning strikes, and 23mm of rain was recorded in Helensville between 7pm and 8pm.

The downpours saw a big boost to levels in Auckland’s water supply dams, which had been well below average.

The total dam storage rose from 64.9 per cent on Monday morning to 72.1 per cent on Tuesday morning. The level was still well below the historical norm of 89.6 per cent full.

However, Watercare said the deluge had caused sewage overflows and the shutdown of the Waitākere Water Treatment Plant. It would be closed for 24 hours due to varying water quality at Waitākere Dam.

Wastewater was overflowing after the sewerage network was inundated with stormwater, chief executive Jon Lamonte said.

“Our crews can’t deal with these overflows until the flooding has subsided, but please do report any overflows on our website – we will clean these up as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said.

“This may take longer than normal, particularly with more rain expected and our backlog growing.”

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