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Auckland weather crisis and contaminated beaches

A house affected by slip. (Photo: Facebook)

Dr Malini Yugendran
2 February 2023

Auckland has been hit by record rainfall in recent days, causing widespread flooding and drainage issues throughout the city. The government had declared a state of emergency, which will be updated tomorrow (03 February 2023) morning.

The runoff from the heavy rainfall has not only damaged structures and roads but also contaminated local beaches, rendering them unsuitable for swimming.

According to the Swimsafe website, all of Auckland’s beaches, from Bucklands to Bethells and from Blockhouse to Browns Bay, are allegedly contaminated and should not be used for swimming. This includes popular beaches such as Waiheke, Whangaparaoa, and Waiwera.

The deluge has resulted in 15,000 insurance claims being lodged.

RNZ reported that the government claimed the storm was the biggest weather disaster in the country’s history. So far, 175 of Auckland’s flood-damaged houses have been deemed uninhabitable and marked with a red sticker, with 779 others marked with a yellow sticker, indicating restricted access. According to RNZ, 400 displaced Auckland residents were showing up at the Māngere emergency centre in need of temporary housing.

Another thunderstorm

While the weather has improved and become hot and sunny, MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for several areas in the North Island, including Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Waikato, and Coromandel Peninsula, which will remain in effect until 10 pm today.

In addition, heavy rain watches are in force for the western Bay of Plenty from 8 am and for the Hunua Ranges and Coromandel from midday.

Schools across Auckland were allowed to reopen from 01 February 2023, but not all schools opened. Laingholm Primary School in Titirangi, an area with many slips, has decided to remain closed till 7 February 2023.

The public transport network in Auckland will also be running mostly reduced services. Meanwhile, dozens of roads in Auckland and major roads in Coromandel and Northland remain partially or fully closed.

Bach collapsed

The site of a Bach that collapsed in Orua Bay on the Āwhitu peninsula was part of an unstable sand dune area. Three Australian tourists were injured, two seriously, in the incident. The viability of nearby homes is uncertain and five have been evacuated. The site of the Bach is unlikely to be rebuilt due to the required earthworks being massive. RNZ reported that Āwhitu peninsula has other places in a similar situation as it is a big coastal sand dune exposed to the elements. Parts of a cliffside house that was destroyed in a slip on the Manukau Heads will be removed today, with warnings that more slips are likely.

For the latest weather warnings and updates, residents are advised to check the MetService website.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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