‘Wettest day ever’: Auckland ‘devastated’ by unprecedented storm

Friday’s storm was Auckland’s “wettest day on record,” officials say, amid growing questions about the emergency response.

Auckland Emergency Management Duty Controller Andrew Clark said Saturday morning and daylight revealed the first real understanding of the impact of yesterday’s storm.

“Auckland was beaten up on Friday – Auckland’s wettest day on record – and today we are starting to clean up.”

MetService said “most records” for the Auckland Airport weather station were broken during Friday’s deluge.

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Auckland Airport had recorded 249mm of rain at 1am on Saturday, surpassing the 1985 record of 161.8mm.

It is also the wettest January – better than January 1986, when 20 cm of rain fell. It also surpassed the wettest month, which was July 1998, with 30 cm of rain. January 2023 had had 32cm of rain so far.

The fire service responded to 719 weather incidents, answered 2,242 emergency calls and conducted 126 rescues on Friday and into the early hours of Saturday.

And it’s still working through a backlog of about 1355 less urgent 111 calls overnight, reaching out to callers to see if they still need help.

District Manager Brad Mosby said, “This was an unprecedented volume of calls and we had to prioritize. We had all available career and volunteer crews on the road to respond to the most dire events.”

The crew helped drain people’s homes and carried out damage assessments, working closely with Auckland Emergency Management and other partners.

“I want to thank all of our people who have been involved in the response efforts to help their communities during this unprecedented event.”

Fireworks help evacuate people in Ranui on Friday.

Lawrence Smith/Stuff

Fireworks help evacuate people in Ranui on Friday.

By the numbers

  • The fire service responded to 719 weather-related incidents in Waitemata, the city of Auckland and the counties of Manukau between 12:01 pm Friday and 7:30 am Saturday.
  • 2242 111 calls were answered by employees of the fire brigade and emergency center, resulting in
  • 2074 calls for help during the weather event.

These include:

  • 126 rescues of people trapped in cars and houses, or involved in motor vehicle accidents
  • 84 priority one incidents (where there was a confirmed threat to humans)
  • 237 priority two incidents (where there was a possible threat to persons)

The rest of the 719 responses consisted of private fire alarm activations, building fires and medical calls.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region said lifeguards and volunteers helped save 79 people in West Auckland and the North Shore. On the north coast, the Mairangi Bay SAR squad rescued 69 people from workplaces along Target Road, Wairau Valley between 8:30pm and 10pm. Using inflatable lifeboats (IRBs), lifeguards rescued groups of five from a number of nearby shops.

Six people were also rescued from surging floodwaters on Ararimu Valley Road in Helensville by Muriwai SAR Squad lifeguards. A family of five, including a very young child, was rescued through a window on their property and taken to safety by two IRBs.

Lifeguards then returned to a second property down the road where an 80-year-old woman was rescued from the second floor of her home. The IRBs rafted onto the roof of the first floor and helped the lady of the house.

Flooding at Auckland Domain.  Photo: Paul Ireton / Delivered

Paul Ireton/Stuff

Flooding at Auckland Domain. Photo: Paul Ireton / Delivered