Authorities in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, have begun a cleanup after torrential rain caused flooding and evacuations, closed airports and forced organizers to cancel a planned Elton John concert.
A state of emergency remained in place in the city of about 1.6 million on New Zealand’s North Island on Saturday as rains eased after causing flooding in the north, north-west and west.
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The Auckland Emergency Management, part of the City Council, said daylight revealed the first “true understanding” of the impact of the storm, which was caused by warm air from the tropics bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms.
“Auckland was devastated on Friday – Auckland’s wettest day on record – and today we start the cleanup,” the agency’s duty inspector Andrew Clark said in a statement, urging caution for residents returning home investigate the damage caused by the flood.
“We won’t start getting a good idea of the impacted numbers until later today and even then it will take time as information is still coming in and many assessments to be completed,” he said.
Emergency Management Secretary Kieran McAnulty tweeted that he and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins would visit Auckland on Saturday “to assess the damage of this event”.
The nation’s weather forecaster said while the heavy rain had eased, another spell of rain was possible on Sunday.
The showers were “scattered across Auckland”, with some severe west of the city, the Auckland Emergency Management tweeted, while warning residents to “stay safe” amid the crisis.
“We’re not out of there yet. Tomorrow the heavy rain will return,” the agency wrote on the social media platform.
Two men were found dead in the flooding, New Zealand Police said. A search was underway for another man who is believed to have been swept away. Another person went missing after a landslide hit a house in an inner Auckland suburb, police said.
The New Zealand Herald reported on Saturday that more than 2,000 calls for help had been received in the city
Auckland Airport, which suspended both domestic and international operations on Friday, was closed until Saturday afternoon when some local flights resumed.
Air New Zealand said its domestic flights to and from Auckland would resume from midday and advised looking into whether international flights would also resume.
The airport was scheduled to open its international terminal from 5 p.m. local time, Air New Zealand said in a statement.
The airline had diverted 12 international flights to Auckland overnight, it said earlier Saturday.
On Friday, social media showed firefighters, police and defense forces using ropes and lifeboats to rescue stranded people from flooded homes.
The flooding also forced the cancellation of British musician Elton John’s concert in the city. Around 40,000 visitors were expected.
https://7news.com.au/weather/natural-disasters/state-of-emergency-declared-as-auckland-clobbered-by-torrential-rains-and-flooding–c-9581513 The “state of emergency” was declared as Auckland was “overwhelmed” by torrential rain and flooding