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

New Zealand braces for cost of Auckland floods, more rain forecast
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WELLINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Flood-ravaged Auckland is expected to receive further heavy rain in the coming days, authorities in New Zealand’s largest city said on Monday The insurers have calculated the costs probably the country’s most costly weather event of all time.

Four people lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that have hit Auckland amid record rain for the past three days. A state of emergency still applies in Auckland. The state of emergency in the Waitomo region south of Auckland has been lifted.

Flights to and from Auckland Airport are still experiencing delays and cancellations, with thousands of passengers still stranded, including hundreds from overseas airline Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) said on Monday.

Beaches around the city of 1.6 million are closed and all schools in Auckland will remain closed until February 27. 7.

“There has been significant damage across Auckland,” New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told state broadcaster TVNZ on Monday. “Apparently a number of houses were damaged by flooding, but also extensive earthmoving.”

Around 350 people needed emergency shelters, he added.


The country’s Metservice forecasts more heavy rains to hit the already soaked city late Tuesday.

“We have even more adverse weather and need to prepare for it,” Rachel Kelleher, head of Auckland Emergency Management, told a media conference.

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

The council has declared 69 houses uninhabitable and barred people from entering them. Another 300 properties were classified as vulnerable, with access restricted to certain areas for a short time.

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

The National Institute of 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.


The cost of the cleanup is expected to exceed the NZ$97 million (US$63 million) bill for 2021 west coast flooding, but will be nowhere near as expensive as the estimated NZ$31 billion insured costs from two major ones Christchurch earthquake in 2010-2011, said Christian Judge, spokesman for the Insurance Council of New Zealand.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG.AX) New Zealand divisions have has received over 5,000 applications to date and Suncorp Group (SUN.AX) said it had received around 3,000 claims from insurance brands Vero and AA. New Zealand Tower (TWR.NZ) said it received around 1,900 applications.

“The number of claims is expected to continue to rise in the coming days as the event is still ongoing and customers are noticing damage to their property,” IAG said in a statement.

Economists say the recovery and rebuilding could increase inflationary pressures in New Zealand as vehicles and household items need to be replaced and the construction work needed to repair or rebuild homes and infrastructure damaged by the floods increases.

($1 = 1.5385 New Zealand dollars)

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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