Authorities in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, began mopping up on Saturday, a day after torrential rain brought flooding and evacuations, shutting airports and forcing organizers to cancel a scheduled concert by Elton John.
A state of emergency remained in place in the city of 1.6 million people on New Zealand’s north island as the rains eased after causing flooding in the north, northwest and west.
Auckland Emergency Management, part of the city’s council, said daylight had revealed the first ‘true understanding’ of the impact of the storm, caused by warm air descending from the tropics that sparked heavy rain and thunderstorms.
’Auckland was clobbered on Friday — Auckland’s wettest day on record — and today we start the cleanup,’ the agency’s duty controller, Andrew Clark, said in a statement, urging caution by residents returning home to survey flood damage.
’We won’t start to get a good idea of numbers affected until later today, and even then, this will take time, with information still coming in and many assessments to complete,’ he said.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins sits in a military plane Jan. 28, 2023, bound for Auckland to assess weather damage. Torrential rain and flooding continued to cause widespread disruption to New Zealand’s largest city.
Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty tweeted that he and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins would visit Auckland on Saturday ‘to assess the damage from this event.’
The nation’s weather forecaster said that while heavy rain had eased, another period of downpours was possible Sunday.
Showers were ‘dotted around Auckland,’ with some heavy west of the city, Auckland Emergency Management tweeted, while warning residents to ‘stay safe’ amid the crisis.
’We’re not out of this yet. Heavy rain returns tomorrow,’ the agency wrote on the social media platform.
Two men were found dead amid the flooding, New Zealand police said. A search was under way for another man believed swept away. Another person was unaccounted for after a landslide hit a house in an inner suburb of Auckland, police said.
More than 2,000 calls for assistance have been made around the city, the New Zealand Herald reported Saturday
Auckland Airport, which closed both domestic and international operations on Friday, was shuttered until Saturday afternoon, when some local flights resumed.
Air New Zealand said its domestic flights in and out of Auckland resumed by noon, and advised it was assessing whether international flights would also restart.
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 12 international flights due into Auckland diverted overnight, it said earlier Saturday.
On Friday, social media showed firefighters, police and defense force staff rescuing stranded people from flooded homes using ropes and rescue boats.
The flooding also forced cancellation of British musician Elton John’s concert in the city. Some 40,000 people had been expected to attend.