Wayne Brown has delivered a message to Aucklanders a year on from the devastating floods, acknowledging how tough this weekend will be for some people.
The floods, which devastated Tāmaki Makaurau a year ago today, left four people dead and thousands of Auckland residents displaced.
The mayor said the impact on community is ongoing, and the city will be recovering for years to come.
“This Anniversary Weekend will be tough for a lot of people. My thoughts are with those who suffered the loss of a loved one, their livelihood, or their home in the most devastating flooding Auckland has seen, certainly in my lifetime,” he said.
“We learned a lot from these catastrophic events. There is still work to be done, but I am confident that we can reduce Auckland’s exposure to risk when, and not if, something like this happens again.”
He said Auckland Council has been working with communities to help mark the milestones, including memorials, community days, morning teas, and wellbeing sessions.
“It’s a milestone that means different things to different people – for some it’s a time of gratitude, for others it’s a stark reminder they’re still in limbo.”
Speaking to Breakfast yesterday, Julie Armstrong said she lost her three-level Northcote home in the flooding after rainwater came in from the roof and onto every level of her house.
She said she’s in an “impossible situation”.
“We’re in our third temporary accommodation, and we are still waiting for somebody from the council to come and assess the house to say ‘yes we agree with the insurance company, we’ll get our reports done, and you will be a buyout’.”
Auckland Council said for people like Armstrong, the uncertainly could be “extremely difficult in so many ways”.
“We are throwing everything we can into this, including resources from other regions and even Australia. And we are communicating where we have updates to provide people on their property or about general timelines across the programme.”
The first Category 3 buy-outs were completed last month.
Brown acknowledged there were a lot of lessons learned in the council’s response to the floods.
He said the floods were a “wake up call” and that the council’s emergency management prioritisation plan, which includes recommendations from the Auckland flood response review, is now two-thirds complete.
“The plan’s 29 actions cover improvements to planning, leadership and governance, operational procedures, capability, partnerships, assets and systems, and communications.”
Brown came under a storm of criticism for his response to the floods, including calls to resign, after critics said his declaration of an emergency was slow while other critics attacked him for a perceived lack of leadership.
He also came under fire after text messages emerged of him despondently being forced to cancel tennis “to deal with media drongos over the flooding”.
He later apologised to Aucklanders for mistakes he made when the floods first hit, saying he “dropped the ball”.
“I was too slow to be seen. The communications weren’t fast enough, including mine. I am sorry,” Brown said in February.
In Brown’s proposal for Auckland’s 2024-34 long-term plan, he called for a “comprehensive approach” to building resilience.
“Over the next 10 years, I am proposing to invest billions in the quality and security of our infrastructure. This includes renewing roads and upgrading bridges, creating blue-green networks in critical flood-risk areas, and supporting community-led resilience,” says Mayor Brown.
“This investment will help save lives, enhance our resilience to disasters, and should provide some reassurance for Aucklanders one year on from the floods.
“If we want to reduce the impact of future shocks on Auckland households and businesses, we must undertake planning and investment to secure the city’s financial position. That means protecting our investments from all hazards and ensuring the infrastructure that Aucklanders rely on every day is secure.”