New Zealand: North Island ravaged by catastrophic flooding


New Zealand~Wellington
A house was crushed and has collapsed after a landslide in the Tauranga suburb of Maungatapu. (Photo: Christel Yardley/Stuff)

The devastating flood emergency in New Zealand resumed on Sunday when torrential rainfall caused landslides, flash floods, and the destruction of roadways on the North Island.

Auckland, New Zealand's largest metropolis with a population of 1.6 million, remained in a state of emergency after its wettest day on Friday triggered floods that killed three people. Sunday, police stated that another person was still missing.

The emphasis of the emergency has since shifted south, with Waitomo District announcing a state of emergency approximately 220 kilometers from Auckland.

Saturday, the mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown, was criticized for what opponents deemed an unwarranted delay in declaring a state of emergency and a failure to communicate visibly with Aucklanders about the impending tragedy. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who had been in office for less than a week, observed nervously as Brown engaged in a contentious debate with the media at a press conference.

MetService, the national weather forecaster, warned of additional severe weather on Sunday and Monday for the North Island, including the possibility of heavy thunderstorms in Auckland. MetService added that intense precipitation might potentially trigger surface and flash floods.

As a result of climate change, heavy rainfall is becoming more frequent and intense, although the effects vary by region. Saturday, when he tweeted his condolences for those affected by flooding, the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw, made a connection to climate change.

The police stated on Sunday that they were aiding traffic management and road closures in that region after heavy rainfall "caused numerous landslides, flooding, and road damage."

In neighbouring Bay of Plenty, police reported "widespread flooding" and a landslide that had destroyed a home and threatened neighbouring properties.

"Police are requesting that those in areas experiencing severe weather refrain from travelling on the roads, as many are currently impassable," police warned.

Auckland Airport, which had ceased domestic and international operations on Friday, restarted flights on Saturday.

Sunday at noon, Air New Zealand will restart international flights into and out of Auckland, the company announced (Auckland time).

Saturday, Hipkins flew a helicopter above Auckland before inspecting homes affected by flooding. In recent memory, he called the flood's impact on the city "unprecedented."

The New Zealand Herald reported on Saturday that the flooding caused more than 2,000 cries for help and 70 evacuations in and around Auckland, the largest city in the country.

On Friday, social media showed firefighters, police, and military personnel using ropes and rescue boats to rescue individuals from their flooded homes.

In the 24 hours leading up to 9 a.m. on Saturday, Auckland Airport recorded 249 millimetres of precipitation, surpassing the previous 161.8 millimetres set in 1985. This meteorological event was triggered by warm air descending from the tropics.

Publish : 2023-01-29 17:04:00

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