WELLINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Flood-ravaged Auckland is forecast to receive more heavy rain in the coming days, authorities in New Zealand’s largest city said on Monday, while insurers accounted for costs of what appears to be the most expensive weather event in the country’s history.
Four people lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that have hit Auckland over the past three days amid record downpours. A state of emergency is maintained in Auckland. The state of emergency has been lifted in the Waitomo region south of Auckland.
Flights in and out of Auckland airport are still experiencing delays and cancellations, with thousands of passengers still stranded, including hundreds from overseas, flag carrier Air New Zealand. (AIR.NZ) said Monday.
Beaches around the city of 1.6 million are closed and all Auckland schools will remain closed until February 1. 7.
“There has been very significant damage in Auckland,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told state television station TVNZ on Monday. “Obviously there were several houses damaged by the flooding, but also by large earth movements.”
Some 350 people needed emergency shelter, he added.
The country’s Metservice forecasts more heavy rain to lash the already sodden city late on Tuesday.
“More severe weather is coming and we need to prepare for that,” Rachel Kelleher, Auckland Emergency Management service controller, told a news conference.
Fire and Emergency services received 30 calls overnight Monday, including responding to a landslide when a carport slid downhill.
The city council has declared 69 houses uninhabitable and has prevented people from entering them. Another 300 properties were considered at risk, with access restricted to certain areas for short periods.
The north of the North Island of New Zealand is getting more rain than normal due to the La Niña weather event.
The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said Auckland has already recorded more than eight times its average January rainfall and 40% of its annual average rainfall.
INSURERS FACE A BIG Tally
The cost of the cleanup is expected to exceed the NZ$97 million ($63 million) bill for flooding on the west coast in 2021, but will not be as expensive as the estimated NZ$31 billion insured costs of two major earthquakes in Christchurch in 2021. 2010-2011, said Christian Judge, a spokesman for the New Zealand Insurance Council.
Australian Insurance Group (IAG.AX) New Zealand divisions have received more than 5,000 claims so far and Suncorp Group (SUN.AX) said it received about 3,000 claims on the Vero and AA insurance brands. new zealand tower (TWR.NZ) said it had received around 1,900 claims.
“The number of claims is expected to increase further in the coming days, with the event still unfolding and as customers identify damage to their property,” IAG said in a statement.
Economists say the recovery and rebuilding could add to inflationary pressures in New Zealand as vehicles and household items need to be replaced and there is an increase in construction work needed to repair or rebuild homes and infrastructure damaged by the floods.
($1 = 1.5385 New Zealand dollars)
Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Edited by Aurora Ellis and Lincoln Feast
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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