Wading through the flood – What Aucklanders need to do now

The aftermath of flooding. (Photo: Minister Michael Wood – Twitter)

Dr Malini Yugendran
1 February 2023

Residents of Auckland and Northland are currently experiencing widespread flooding on roads and highways, landslides, and suspended train service. According to Auckland’s minister, Michael Wood, volunteers are helping to evacuate vulnerable residents.

Auckland’s red warning ends

Auckland’s red warning has ended indicating that the worst of the storms has moved past the region but red warnings remain in effect for Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.

Auckland and Northland continue to be under a state of emergency.

All Auckland schools will remain closed until February 7th,

The death toll from the floods in Auckland to date is four.

Drainage overflowing (Photo: Indian NewsLink)

The Auckland Council has confirmed 375 properties have been yellow-stickered and 102 red-stickered.

Red and yellow stickers are used to indicate the structural integrity of buildings. A red sticker on a property means that it is unsafe to enter and is deemed too dangerous for occupants to enter it.

A yellow sticker, on the other hand, indicates that the building is safe to enter but with caution. In some cases, yellow-stickered properties may be required to undergo further inspections to assess their safety.

Travelling in Auckland

Waka Kotahi advises people to delay their travels if their routes are affected by flooding. The Western Line trains have been suspended for now. For anyone who does need to use the roads, updates are being posted by Auckland Transport on their Twitter feed, and Waka Kotahi on their website.

Discarded furniture (Photo: Indian NewsLink)

Flood Victim’s story

Realtor KC Karthik’s home started flooding, yet he left his home to help his elderly neighbour get to safety. In an interview with Indian Newslink, he said, “you do not think these sorts of things will happen to you. You read about it in papers, and it is usually in a distant land.”

He explained, “I had a knock on my door when my neighbour said she needed help in bringing her elderly mom to safety. The water was already up to my neck. We waded through and lifted her mom and carried her to the main road.”

Mr Karthik recollected how he had elevated things from the floor to the bed thinking the water would not rise till the bed. He recollects, “but within a fraction of a minute the water started gushing in and that was when I called my cousin and friends to come to help me evacuate.”

The initial stages of Karthik’s home flooding. (Photo: supplied)

Karthik has temporarily rented a house because his own home is currently uninhabitable. When asked if he knows what steps to take next, he said, “I have been trying to visit websites to get some form of help on what needs to be done.”

What should you do before entering the house?

The first and most crucial step is to ensure the house is safe before entering. Wait until Civil Defence gives the all-clear to go back to your house.

If you see any signs of electrical or gas threats, turn off the main power and gas supply to avoid any accidents. It is recommended to have an electrician inspect the house before turning the power supply back on.

In the aftermath of a flood, it is important to be aware that your property may have been contaminated with harmful substances such as sewage and chemicals. The Ministry of Health New Zealand warns that these elements can pose a serious health risk. It is crucial to keep children away from floodwaters, as they may contain sewage overflow.

After entering the house

To help dry out your home and prevent the growth of mould, it is advisable to open windows and doors to allow for fresh air circulation. By ventilating the home, you reduce the risk of mould growth.

Street submerged in water. (Photo: Facebook)

Before commencing cleaning

Your home probably will not be in the same state as when you left it. Before you start cleaning up, take photographs of the damage so you may use them as evidence for your insurance claims.

Use a marker to mark the highest water level in each flooded room.

If you have contents insurance, the cost of replacing any items lost to the flood should be covered by your insurer. As soon as you can, get in touch with your insurance to begin the claims procedure.

Mr Karthik said, “after trying to reach the insurance company for two days, I finally managed to get them on the phone on the third day and they informed me to submit my claim online. Those who need to make a claim do so online. This can save you time and effort. But do be as thorough as possible.”

Car submerged in water. (Photo: Facebook)

If you are renting a home

If you are renting a property that has been affected by floods, it is important to take certain steps to protect your rights and ensure the damage is properly addressed.

Notify the property manager or owner. Give them a thorough breakdown of all the damages, including the locations and amount of the damage as well as any relevant images or videos.

Consumer NZ asserts that the landlord is in charge of upkeep and repair of any damage that arises during the rental, including flood damage.

You can be eligible for a rent reduction if the house is still liveable. And, you also have the right to provide notice and terminate the tenancy agreement if the property is uninhabitable.

You might need to seek assistance from the Rental Tribunal if the landlord rejects your request for a rent decrease or discontinues the tenancy arrangement. The tribunal has the authority to rule on disagreements involving landlords and renters.

Things you need to throw

Remove all waterlogged items such as bedding, clothes, furniture and household items. Replace carpets and any absorbent building materials. Flooring with multiple layers, such as carpet, may need to be replaced, as the contaminants and persistent odour will not go away.

Your house will require a thorough and extensive clean-up process.

Where to discard?

Auckland residents can currently dispose of flood-damaged property at the city’s refuse stations for free. If you have access to a trailer or know someone who does, consider removing soaked carpets and soaked household items. However, it is recommended to check the station’s wait time by calling ahead as queues are growing.

Alternative options include skips that have been placed in flood-prone communities. The Auckland Council is also providing kerbside collections in areas that require assistance.

The Auckland Council also provides kerbside collections in areas in need.

Visit the Auckland Council website for more information.


Mr Karthik said, “the initial period was a huge struggle. I did not know what to do and was reliant on WhatsApp chat groups and Facebook for information. I then went to the Kelston Evacuation Centre. That is where I was given thorough information. I was told to also approach WINZ [Work and Income New Zealand]. I know we may be reluctant in seeking help, but the government has in place many forms of assistance that can ease your stress at this trying time, so do reach out.”

Civil Defence Centers

There are currently three evacuation centres that Aucklanders can go to:

Kelston at Saint Leonard’s Road School, 15 Leonard’s Road

Randwick Park, at Manu Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive

Albany, at the Massey University Albany East Precinct. Enter at Gate 1/Main Entrance off the Albany Expressway SH17. The centre is set up in the Sir Neil Waters Theatre

The Auckland emergency Management helpline number is 0800 22 22 00

When I visited the Kelston Evacuation Centre, there were close to about 60 people housed on the premises. The volunteers had just found a home for a family of 11 members. I spoke to some of those who were there, and they were anxious, and some were in disbelief that this has happened in Auckland. Ms Neesa, a volunteer in the centre said, “Aucklanders are very warm people. The donations for food have been pouring in.“

The Red Cross has asked individuals to stop sending food and clothing directly to the evacuation center at Kelston, as they have reached capacity and need space for the belongings of those who are residing there. To determine the specific needs of the centers, it is recommended to reach out to them directly and inquire.

Student Volunteer Army

Yesterday (Jan. 31, 2023) student volunteers walked to more than 700 homes in Henderson to check on the residents’ well-being and give support.

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

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