Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says Auckland is still facing much uncertainty, with more heavy rain forecast for the city.
Further downpours overnight led to five more rescues of people trapped by floodwaters and landslips, and a significant landslip in Titirangi.
Chris Hipkins said Auckland has a big clean-up ahead from the torrential rain that began on Friday causing unprecedented flooding around the city.
“And then of course we’ve got the uncertainty of what the weather’s going to do over the next few days still ahead of us … so it’s still a very challenging time for Auckland.”
There has been criticism of Auckland mayor Wayne Brown’s initial response as the emergency unfolded, but Hipkins would not be drawn on what he thought of it.
“Ultimately these are locally-led responses, central government is available to provide any support that the local response teams are looking for – I’ve been in regular contact with the mayor whenever he’s asked for something from me or from the government we’ve responded immediately to that.
“Clearly there’ll be an opportunity to look back and to review exactly how things were handled, particularly in that first 24 hour period but at the moment I think our focus has to be on the emergency response that’s right in front of us.
“I’m not going to spend a huge amount of time going backwards over that right at the moment because we need everybody, including the people who would answer those questions, to be focused getting through the next period.”
“Central government is ready and willing to help – we will put everything into this that we need to.”
Ministers have been in contact over the last 24 hours with insurance companies, local businesses in Auckland and banks.
He said big investments were required in water infrastructure in Auckland, and the government would have a role in that.
Hipkins said the Cabinet reshuffle would not be delayed and would still take place this week.
‘There could have been more communication’
Auckland Council North Shore ward councillor Richard Hills says there could have been more communication as flooding hit the city,
He said there was a lot of anger, confusion and anxiety, and although it was a fast-moving situation, more information could have been put out.
“Even if it was … just updating people around what was happening and what we were getting – because people just felt like they didn’t know.”
“My view is there could have been more communication from those official channels, just to let people know what to do and where, even if it wasn’t clear because it was so fast-moving.”
Hills had been working with residents whose homes are being red-stickered or who are looking at how to get council officials out to assess properties.
“There’s significant slips, and a lot of people have unfortunately lost everything.
“It’s across Auckland, but the houses and people I’ve seen, it’s just extremely shocking. Two-metre high water in some cases – it’s just unbelievable.”
He was working with the mayor’s office and council waste authorities to get skips out so flood debris can be moved quickly, he said, while MSD was helping with long term accommodation.
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