Flooded motorways, people fleeing their homes, landslides and a swamped airport – intense rainfall  caused deaths and wreaked havoc in Auckland on Friday night

A third death related to the flooding around Auckland has been confirmed this afternoon.

Police have confirmed that Fire and Emergency workers at a Shore Rd property that had been hit by a landslide found one person dead earlier today.

Police will now make enquiries on behalf of the Coroner.

The supercity has experienced a staggering amount of rainfall with widespread flooding creating hazards for people and properties.

In some places, houses and buildings have been flooded and people have been evacuated. Many local roads and highways are unpassable or closed due to flooding and slips, and serious flooding has affected Auckland Airport.

Police responded to a call after a man was found dead in a flooded culvert in Wairau Valley, about 7.30pm last night.

Flooding in downtown Auckland on Friday night. Photo: RNZ

The spokesperson says police were called to a flooded carpark on Link Drive, also in Wairau Valley, after a report of another man found dead about 12.30am on Saturday.

Inquiries into the circumstances of both deaths are ongoing, police say.

Police are also investigating reports of a man had been swept away by floodwaters in Onewhero shortly after 10pm on Friday. A search and rescue team will deploy today to search for the missing man.

Police are urging people to stay home and not drive unless absolutely necessary today as they continue to respond to a high number of calls.

Travellers met an unexpected obstacle in the terminal at Auckland Airport. Photo: Facebook/Sher Singh

A state of emergency was called for the region at 9.30pm on Friday and will remain in place for seven days. Auckland’s mayor Wayne Brown reiterated the call to “stay safe, stay home” and said the rain and flooding was not over.

Brown said staff would today be assessing what damage had occurred and what steps needed to be taken next, and has shut down criticism that he was too slow in declaring a state of emergency.

In a media stand-up late on Friday evening, Brown said he was following advice from experts and as soon as they said it was time to declare an emergency, he signed it off.

“It wasn’t as if nothing was happening before that,” Brown said.

Brown said he was confident the state of emergency had been declared at the right time as it would have been “irresponsible” to rush ahead and declare the emergency just because the public was calling for it.

Wide evacuations were underway across the city as the wild weather flooded homes, caused slips and power outages.

Newsroom Pro managing editor Jonathan Milne took this footage at his property in Onehunga.

YouTube video

Auckland Airport closed its international terminal due to flooding inside the building.

The appalling weather also led to the cancellation of Sir Elton John’s concert at Mt Smart Stadium just a few minutes before the singer was due to take the stage.

Calling for help

If you are unsafe, call 111.

Fire and Emergency received more than 2000 calls last night in Auckland, and on Friday night asked people to only call 111 if there was an emergency where someone’s safety was in jeopardy. However, by Saturday morning, FENZ Counties Manukau district manager Brad Mosby said staff were now working through the backlog of less urgent calls.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said due to the number of calls for help, emergency services were prioritising what they could respond to, but his message was to stay safe, minimise movement and look after others as much as possible.

Brown said those responding to requests for help were focused on welfare calls, and would address infrastructure problems as a second priority when that is possible. Resources from outside the region were being brought in to assist the local civil defence response.

To report flooding, damage to drains, or stormwater issues, Auckland Council wants people to report online here.

The Ministry of Social Development is also taking calls for welfare assistance on: 0800 400 100.

Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said while the Civil Defence response is currently a local response, help was also being supplied from outside the region by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

“There are resources to assist. People should be not hesitating – if they need assistance, and letting NEMA [National Emergency Management Agency] know,” McAnulty said.

Essential services

Auckland’s tap water is safe to drink, Auckland Council said.

Vector is reporting widespread power outages. Check their outage map here.

In many places, sewerage has been flooded and spilled into the floodwaters, and people are urged to stay out of the water if they can.

Where to find essential information

Auckland Emergency Management is providing regular updates on their website here.

Auckland Council is providing updates and information on their website here.

RNZ will keep updating news and information from authorities throughout the day on air and online, including in our live blog.

Where to go if it is not safe at home

Three Civil Defence Centres are open for anyone who needs a safe place to go to.

  • In Kelson at Saint Leonard’s Road School, 15 Leonard’s Road
  • In Randwick Park, at Manu Tukutuku, 32 Riverton Drive
  • In 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

A helpline has been set up by Auckland Emergency Management for anyone who needs accommodation: 0800 22 22 00.

An earlier Civil Defence Centre that had been opened at the North Shore Events Centre was shifted to the Massey Campus (see details above).

Anyone headed to the Civil Defence Centres is asked to bring essential items like medication, warm clothes and baby items.

Flooding in Browns Bay on Auckland’s North Shore. Photo: Supplied

Roads and travel

Authorities are calling on everyone to stay safe at home and not to travel if they are safe where they are.

For anyone who does need to use the roads, updates are being posted by Auckland Transport on their Twitter feed here, and Waka Kotahi on their website here and on their Twitter feed here.

Due to the flooding at Auckland Airport, no domestic or international flights will be arriving or departing from Auckland Airport before noon today. Travellers should get in touch with their airline or check their airline travel app for the latest information and any impact on travel plans.

Flood waters and damage

Auckland Emergency Management Duty Controller Andrew Clark called on everyone to think of safety first.

“We understand Aucklanders will be anxious to return to their homes to survey the damage, but we urge them to do so with caution.

“Please do not drive through floodwaters and remember hazards and debris could lurk beneath the surface, and floodwaters may be contaminated.

“If your property has been damaged, please take pictures for your insurance company and contact them as soon as you can.”

Beaches are unsafe

All Auckland beaches are now rated high or very high risk for swimming as flood waters overwhelmed wastewater systems.

Auckland’s SafeSwim website said every beach was now at red or black alert, the highest rating. At black level, residents are advised baldly – Do not swim.

MetService said the thunderstorms were expected to be accompanied by torrential rain which could cause flooding and make driving conditions extremely hazardous.

Cars trapped in Silverdale. Photo: Supplied 

Aucklanders should only call 111 if life is in danger

Aucklanders are being urged to only call 111 if life is in danger as Fire and Emergency deals with an increasing number of calls.

Fire crews are dealing with an estimated 1500 calls for assistance but many relate to flooded property. They are prioritising calls where people are in danger and need to be rescued.

Counties Manukau District Manager Brad Mosby said that when people phone with non-urgent requests for help with flooding, it stops people who urgently need help from getting through.

Residents in flood-prone areas urged to plan to evacuate

An emergency accommodation centre has been set up at St Leonard’s Primary School at 15 St Leonards Road in the west Auckland suburb of Kelston to house people evacuated from floodwaters.

Auckland Emergency Management said staff were out assessing flooding, including reports of people being rescued from the roofs of their houses.

Duty Controller Andrew Clark said people should stay at home and shelter if it was safe to do so.

He advised people to check on friends, neighbours and family members, but not to put themselves in danger in order to do so.

Clark urged anyone who did need to evacuate to stay with family and friends in the first instance if they were able.

“If you do need to evacuate, please take essential items, like medicines, with you,” he said in a statement.

* Follow the latest updates here via RNZ *

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