New Zealand accounts for cost of Auckland floods, more rain forecast

WELLINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Flood-ravaged Auckland is expected to see more heavy rain in the coming days, authorities in New Zealand’s largest city said on Monday, as insurers have calculated the costs of what is likely to be the nation’s costliest weather event.

Four people lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that have hit Auckland over the past three days amid record-breaking rain. A state of emergency remains in effect in Oakland. The state of emergency was lifted in the Waitomo region, south of Auckland.

There are still flight delays and cancellations to and from Auckland Airport, beaches around the city of 1.6 million are closed and all Auckland schools will remain closed until February 7.

“There is very significant damage in Auckland,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told state broadcaster TVNZ on Monday. “Obviously there were a number of homes damaged by flooding, but also by extensive earth movements.”

About 350 people are currently in need of emergency accommodation, he added.


The Metservice is predicting further heavy rain to hit the already drenched city late on Tuesday.

“We have more severe weather ahead of us and we need to prepare for that,” Auckland Emergency Services duty controller Rachel Kelleher told a media conference.

Fire and emergency services received 30 calls overnight on Monday, including responding to a landslide when a carport slid down a hill.

The council has declared 69 houses uninhabitable and prevented people from entering them. A further 300 properties were deemed at risk, with access to certain areas restricted for short periods.

The north of New Zealand’s North Island has seen more rain than normal due to the La Nina weather event.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said Auckland had already recorded more than eight times its average rainfall in January and 40% of its annual average.


The clean-up cost is expected to exceed the NZ$97 million ($63 million) bill for the 2021 West Coast floods, but will not be as expensive as the estimated NZ$31 billion insurance costs of two major earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010-2011, Insurance Council of New Zealand spokesman Christian Judge said.

Insurance Australia Group’s (IAG.AX) New Zealand divisions have over 5,000 claims have been received so far and Suncorp Group (SUN.AX) said it had received around 3,000 claims across its Vero and AA insurance brands. New Zealand Tower (TWR.NZ) said it had received about 1,900 claims.

“The number of claims is expected to increase further in the coming days as the event is still developing and as customers identify damage to their property,” IAG said in a statement.

Economists say recovery and rebuilding could add to inflationary pressures in New Zealand as vehicles and household goods need to be replaced and there is an increase in construction work needed to repair or rebuild houses and infrastructure damaged by the floods.

($1 = NZ$1.5385)

Reporting by Lucy Cramer; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Lincoln Feast

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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