Emergency lifted after New Zealand storm less than feared

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's Northland region lifted a state of emergency declaration Wednesday after an overnight storm didn't turn out as bad as feared.

A heavy rain warning for Auckland was also lifted, although a state of emergency remained in place for the nation's largest city after record rainfall and flooding on Friday killed four people and caused widespread disruption.

Weather forecasters had predicted another night of heavy rain.

Ron Devlin, the regional manager for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, told reporters that crews had dealt with more than 50 weather-related callouts Wednesday morning in and around Auckland.


“But I want to stress the rain didn’t reach the point that was predicted, which is a great thing, and so we’re quite comfortable with the amount of events that we’re attending,” Devlin said. “This is business as usual for fire and emergency.”

Northland, located north of Auckland, had declared the emergency Tuesday in anticipation of a deluge, a move that gives authorities extra powers.

“As it eventuated, these powers were not required and there is no need for the emergency declaration to continue," said Graeme MacDonald, the group controller for Northland Civil Defense Emergency Management.

In Auckland, officials had earlier closed schools for the week and asked people to work from home if possible as the cleanup continued.

On Friday, the amount of rain that would typically fall during an entire summer hit in a single day. At one point that evening, more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain fell in three hours.

Emergency officials said some 200 homes and businesses around the city were assessed as too unsafe to enter after the flooding.

Resident Cassie Clark examined flood damage to one Auckland home Tuesday, saying everything was destroyed.

“The beds, the linen, the clothes, the couches, everything inside is ruined. The actual walls are damaged, it’s all soft now, it’s not going to hold,” Clark told Television New Zealand. "Everything that this family has had over the last 10 years has been taken away from them in a split second.”