At least 3 killed in New Zealand flooding as PM visits hard-hit Auckland
By Patrick Hilsman,
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited the Auckland region Saturday to survey damage from major flooding which has already killed three people, according to authorities.
A fourth person is missing in the aftermath of a record-setting deluge.
"I want to acknowledge the way Aucklanders have come together to support each other," Hipkins said while expressing condolences to the families of the dead.
Auckland Airport recorded approximately 10.8 inches of rainfall over a 40-hour period prior to 4 p.m. Friday, the highest level of rainfall since 1962.
A state of emergency was declared across the region as Auckland struggled under the record rainfall. Residents are being urged to avoid driving on flooded roads and to exercise caution when cleaning up due to potential sewer water contamination.
"We want to make sure that all residents are kept informed, and emergency services are able to reach those who are most vulnerable and at risk as quickly as possible," Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said in his emergency declaration. "Do not put yourself at risk."
A state of emergency was also declared in Waitomo district Saturday by Mayor John Roberston.
"The situation in Waitomo is serious, and with nightfall upon us and and more rain expected, it's important we are prepared and have the right controls in place to provide help and support, including further evacuations," he said.
Landslides damaged homes in Massey, Hillsborough, Stanley Point and Northcote Point on New Zealand's north island.
Though the flooding caused major outages , Hipkins said most of the Auckland region had retained power. As of Saturday, approximately 3,500 homes were still without power.
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