Upper North Island Storm

A region-wide storm continues to cause disruption in Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula tonight.

A State of Emergency exists in the northernmost part of the North Island, where serious flood and wind damage occurred yesterday (Tuesday 10th July 2007). As the evening progressed, welfare centres that had been quiet earlier in the day as locals found accommodation within their communities began to fill. A breached stopbank in Kaitaia caused additional evacuations mid-evening, and surface flooding in Kawakawa and widespread electricity failures throughout the region caused more people to seek accommodation.

Roads throughout the Northland region have been closed by surface flooding, downed trees and landslips. Power will not be restored to many localities overnight, and a number of wastewater treatment facilities are now causing concern. Overflows have been reported at several, five are causing concern (including Russell and Opononi) and emergency action is being undertaken at a further seven.

Disruption in Northland is widespread, and the full extent of the situation will not be known until later this morning when urgent work is completed and the situation has been assessed.

Residents of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, experienced the storm’s fury late yesterday, with steady rainfall and strong winds. Public transport was disrupted at peak commuter time with some harbour ferries cancelled, trains delayed by trees blown onto lines and electricity failures affecting road traffic. The Auckland Harbour Bridge was unlit for a period and high winds forced the bridge to be closed to motorcyclists but not, as some media reported, to all traffic. Window and roof damage has been reported in the city and suburbs.

Road closures, high winds and power disruptions have spread further south to Paeroa and the Coromandel Peninsula. As the evening progressed, the number of people without electricity grew from several thousand to 90,000 and to 130,000 by midnight. Outages now extend throughout parts of Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, and some areas can expect to be without power for up to 24 hours.

[sources: New Zealand Police Media Centre, Northland Regional Council, NZ Weather Forum. ]

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