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Auckland floods: City begins cleanup after ‘biggest weather event’ in New Zealand history | Auckland

Insurers say the devastating floods in Auckland were the ‘biggest weather event’ in New Zealand’s history, as the rain eased off after days of showers and a city clean-up has begun.

Friday was the wettest day on record for New Zealand’s biggest city, with heavy rains causing flooding in streets and highways, killing four people. Schools and businesses closed as buildings and roads were ravaged by the flood. Auckland International Airport has been temporarily closed, stranding thousands of overseas travelers.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told reporters in Auckland on Wednesday that the flood would be the “largest non-earthquake event” in terms of insurance the country has ever recorded. He didn’t yet have an estimate of the likely cost of the damage.

New Zealand floods: Drone footage shows derailed train and landslides – video report

His remarks came as rain eased off in the city of 1.6million – although further downpours caused more damage overnight – and attention turned to assessing the scale of chaos.

At least 20,000 claims have already been made, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of New Zealand told the Guardian, and the numbers are expected to continue to rise for weeks.

As the water receded, evidence of a soggy and destroyed city emerged: authorities put up red signs on 138 buildings – meaning entry is prohibited without council consent – while yellow signs restrict the use of another 542. Structural inspections are expected to be completed by the end of the week.

A major landslide caused by flooding on the cliffs below Parnell in Auckland has left homes unsafe
A major landslide caused by flooding on the cliffs below Parnell in Auckland has left homes unsafe Photography: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Landslides and sinkholes still threaten homes. Three people were taken to hospital on Wednesday afternoon – two seriously injured – after a house in Orua Bay, a rural township in Auckland, crashed into a bank on the beach, trapping one person in inside.

More than 600 flood-damaged cars have been removed from city roads, said Rachel Kelleher, Auckland’s assistant emergency management controller. Across the city, fallen trees, debris and mud litter the streets where last Friday residents waded through chest-deep water or paddled kayaks to safety.

Schools and early learning centers – which were closed this week by an order from the Ministry of Education – will be allowed to open on Thursday if they wish.

Parts of the city’s highway network remain flooded and a number of rail lines are not operating.

Auckland is still in a state of emergency, with officials due to reconsider the designation on Friday. There are no longer any weather warnings in place for the city.

Heavy rain warnings remain in place for the Coromandel Peninsula, east of Auckland, where trunk roads are closed and homes teeter on the edge of the slides. Alerts have been lifted for Bay of Plenty and Northland.

Forecasters had warned of heavy rain in Auckland ahead of Friday’s deluge, but the frightening speed and volume of the downpour – which saw 250mm of rain in parts of the city’s north, south and west – surprised many.

A slow-moving subtropical low pressure system over Auckland triggered torrential rains, which were intensified by humid La Niña conditions and a marine heatwave that had already brought an unusually hot and humid summer for Nova Scotia. Zeeland.

The city’s mayor, Wayne Brown, was criticized for what critics said was poor communication and a delayed response from his office as the rain intensified. Brown was revealed in leaked WhatsApp group chat messages to have lamented the cancellation of a tennis match the following day to “deal with media dronos”.

Brown said Monday he had done nothing wrong but would launch an independent review of the flood response. Chris Hipkins, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, announced a new minister role for Auckland on Tuesday in his cabinet reshuffle.

As the cleanup begins, the disaster is raising concern about the growing cost of the climate crisis to New Zealand, which in 2022 saw new records for extreme weather claims.

Economists have also warned that the floods could contribute to inflationary pressures for the country through spikes in near-term prices for fresh produce, rents, transport and construction, the New Zealand Herald reported.

theguardian Gt

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