The Auckland region is bracing for another blast of severe weather as Cyclone Gabrielle heads for our shores; hot on the heels of the recent state of emergency and flooding caused by a record-breaking downpour.

The MetService has issued heavy rain and strong wind watches for the region, which could be upgraded to orange or red warning depending on the path the cyclone takes – you can track Gabrielle’s path yourself at

The Auckland Emergency Management agency is advising people to be prepared for power outages and be ready to evacuate if needed. “Make sure you have all the items you need, including medication, [ready to go.] You may be at home for an extended period. Make sure you have enough supplies, and you are prepared for this.”

The agency also recommends securing any loose items on your property, such as trampolines, pot plants, wheelie bins or outdoor furniture – this includes rubbish left out for collection. “Check on your family, whānau and neighbours, and vulnerable members of your community. [And] clear stormwater drains around your home if it is safe to do so.”

Waiheke Local Board chairwoman Cath Handley says local advice and updates will be available through residents associations, and community Facebook pages – especially Waiheke Warnings.

Cath says because Waiheke is not part of a big urban network, there won’t be any big evacuation centres. “The best plan is to talk to friends now and ask if you can stay with them if you have to be evacuated. Waiheke will have evacuation centres set up as necessary, staffed by local volunteer groups.”

Where they will be set up depends entirely on where they are needed – and public notice will be sent out if and when that happens.

The Local Board also ask residents to check nearby driveways, culverts, drains and gully traps now, and report any issues to the council – and to do the same after any heavy rain.

A report, preferably with a photo, can be filed online at

Cath says the reports go straight through to a council contractor, and are automatically logged with council staff.

While many believe culverts under driveways are looked after council’s responsibility, it is actually up to the landowner to look after them.
Cath says there are local contractors available to help landowners with culverts that need to be cleared.

Low-lying properties at risk of flooding may need sandbagging – compost and rubbish bags, large dog food sacks and similar sacks will work. The sand to fill them can be supplied by landscape and garden supply companies.

“Whist we are surrounded by sand on our beaches it is important not to rush down and fill your trailer with it. It’s protected by bylaws and under the RMA. Of course in an emergency, it may be a last resort but it is better to keep our ecosystems safe [if possible].

Travel may also be disrupted as the cyclone hits.

Sealink announced on Friday it will cut back its timetable from Sunday through Wednesday (February 12-15). The remaining sailings for essential travel bookings only. This includes people who need to travel for business or medical appointments, and people returning to their homes.

Fullers has not announced any cancellations yet, but has posted a travel alert saying the company is monitoring the situation closely. “Depending on the severity of the cyclone and its impact we may revert to reduced timetables across the ferry network – similar to the timetable that were in place during the flooding event at the end of January.”

The alert states Fullers may need to delay or cancel services at short notice, but will give as much warning as possible. • Paul Mitchell

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