Thursday, December 9

West Auckland Residents Deal With Flood Damage Two Months Later, Millions In Insurance Claims

Cleanup continues in western Auckland, two months after severe flooding destroyed parts of the region.

Sign showing blocked access to Te Henga Road

Sign showing blocked access to Te Henga Road.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

Floods that followed an overnight downpour in late August forced dozens of homes to evacuate, left homes uninhabitable and caused significant damage to roads, all while a Covid-19 alert level 4 blockade was in operation.

So far, the New Zealand Insurance Council had recorded 2,442 claims totaling $ 56.4 million stemming from the disaster.

Auckland City Council had red-tagged five properties, marking them uninhabitable, while another 54 were marked as significantly damaged.

Signs of the flood persisted in Kumeū. Some storefronts on the main street were bricked up, in some places trash cans were full of trash, and locals shook their heads and murmured about waist-deep flooding.

Kumeu Bridgestone owner Johnny Mills was used to seeing the Kumeu River near his tire shop rushing high when it rained heavily.

But he was surprised that the waters rose so high that his tent was flooded.

“It was really out of nowhere. I still can’t imagine we were inundated.”

Mills was grateful for their insurance and was among the lucky few who were able to reopen, but was still waiting for some internal walls to be replaced.

He said a shortage of construction supplies was slowing down repairs and he hoped to wait another month until builders could work on it.

NorthWest Country Business Association President Mark Dennis said many businesses were severely affected by the floods.

“There were many businesses that lost all of their inventory. There were several businesses that lost various vehicles, trucks, and equipment. [It] turn them off for a long period of time. “

Storm, the first of many for the Waitākere ranges

In Waitākere Ranges, seven roads affected by slipping have yet to be repaired. This included Te Henga Road, where a huge pile of dirt blocked the road and heavy machinery working on top of a cliff would be needed to repair it.

At Te Henga Bethells Beach, 200 residents were temporarily stranded when the only entrance and exit road was washed away by a swollen river.

A stretch of Bethells Road has now been repaired after flooding washed away it.

A section of Bethells Road has now been repaired.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

Te Henga Bethells Beach road after a major storm hit West Auckland.

The Te Henga Bethells Beach road just after the big storm.
Photo: Twitter / Auckland Transport

The route was quickly repaired, but Waitākere Ranges Local Board member and Te Henga resident Mark Allen expected more storms to come.

“We are going to see more of these extreme weather events. As the weather changes and we have increasingly severe weather events, we will have more attacks on our infrastructure.”

Mark Allen, a member of the Waitakere Ranges local board and a resident of Te Henga Bethells Beach.

Mark Allen, Waitākere Ranges local board member.
Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

He said that improving the road network was part of this.

“It’s built on car lanes, it’s built on old roads. Much of it was not built for this kind of extreme weather.”

Allen said better communication with residents was needed so they could clean the drains and prepare for extreme weather in the future.

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