The Auckland Flood
On 27 January Auckland suffered its wettest day on record. Over 5000 homes were damaged, and, even more devastatingly, four people lost their lives. We’ve delved into what the experts say may have caused this historical event. If you or someone you know needs support, please scroll to the bottom of the article for more information.
What caused the Auckland Flood?
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, recently experienced its wettest day in history due to a combination of various factors such as La Niña, a marine heatwave, a slow-moving subtropical low-pressure system, and strong winds. The weather event resulted in widespread flooding, causing damage to homes, roads, and other infrastructure and, sadly claiming the lives of four people. The event was described as a “perfect storm” and a “standout event”.
According to a New Zealand Herald article by Jamie Morton, meteorologists were surprised by the scale of the downpour. While they had been tracking the system for a week, the warning was only for potentially heavy rain and not for the magnitude of the event that transpired. The next four hours after the steady rain at Auckland airport brought twice the total amount of rain recorded, with a provisional total of 238.4mm at Motat, 260.6mm at Albany and 242mm at Mangere.
Climate scientist Professor James Renwick of Victoria University suggests that the event will likely reset the national conversation about the climate crisis. The event is expected to have a significant economic impact and serves as a warning that more events like this are likely to happen if we do not rethink our infrastructure, and how our Wetlands can impact our livelihoods if not respected.
The convergence of various factors, such as the converging northeasterly winds, the moist and unstable air, the long band of thunderstorms, and the saturation of the atmospheric column, all contributed to the extreme rainfall. The rainfall intensified rapidly due to the conditions, and the long-time residents of Auckland reported that they had never seen such a powerful bout of rain before.
The incident highlights the need for better preparedness and mitigation strategies to deal with the impacts of extreme weather events, which are likely to become more frequent and severe due to global climate change.
A state of emergency declared for Auckland
There was a lot of confusion on when a state of emergency was called, and also, why it was not called earlier. However, here is what we know.
4pm Suburbs in Auckland’s Henderson started flooding. At the same time, thousands of people were commuting to the once-in-a-lifetime Elton John concert in Mount Smart.
By 6pm emergency services had received over 500 calls, roads had been closed due to landslips, and flooding had blocked parts of the northern motorway.
Shortly after 7pm, officials called off the Elton John Concert, sending thousands of commuters onto the motorway.
Between 7pm and 9:30pm, hundreds of people were forced to evacuate, shops were inundated with water, more roads were closed, landslips and chaos – still, no state of emergency was called.
By 9:30pm, Auckland Airport was flooded. A state of emergency for Auckland was officially declared at 9:45pm.
Mayor Wayne Brown has requested an independent review of the flood response, accepting that communications from himself, and his office wasn’t “good enough”.
The aftermath to the Auckland Flood is something that will stay with Aucklanders for a long time.
As Auckland woke up on the 28th, to process what had happened over the past 12 hours, the stories of our local heroes started emerging. Communities started showing what they were truly made of, and we got to see what the true meaning of Community togetherness.
Where to get help:
• If you or someone else is in danger, please dial 111
• Flooding, Storm Water issues or Damaged drains 0800 22 22 00 or Auckland Council
• Landslides – Public land contact Auckland Council 09 301 0101
– Public Roads contact Auckland Transport 09 355 3553
Auckland Flood Up-to-Date information
Auckland Flood help – Accommodation
• For urgent accommodation assistance, contact Auckland Emergency Management on 0800 22 22 00
• For welfare assistance, contact the Ministry of Social Development at 0800 400 100
• Homelessness contact Auckland City Mission
• For Emergency Housing contact the Ministry of Social Development at 0800 559009
• Three Civil Defence Centres are now open
1. Saint Leonard’s Road School, 15 St Leonard’s Road, Kelston
2. Massey University Albany Campus, Sir Neil Waters Theatre, Gate1/Main entrance (Off Albany Expressway), Albany, North Shore
3. Manu Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive, Randwick Park
Auckland Flood help – Food
Auckland City Mission 0800 223 663 from 8:30am to 4:00pm
Baahubali Indian Restuarant – Free takeaways for locals affected by the flood. Monday and Wednesday 5pm-9pm. 1087 New North Road, Mt Albert, Auckland
ARK Collective, Mt Roskil
Everybody Eats – Onehunga
HOW CAN I HELP AUCKLAND FLOOD VICTIMS?
AM has set up a go fund me page to support Auckland City Mission in their efforts to help families affected by the flood. You can donate to their Give a Little page.