National | Flooding

Kāinga Ora tenants sleeping in flood-damaged homes

Kāinga Ora tenant Aileen Jack's Māngere property was decimated in the recent Auckland Anniversary Weekend flooding and on Monday night during the height of Cyclone Gabrielle says she was ready to evacuate. Photo / LDR / Stephen Forbes / Stuff

Some Kāinga Ora tenants are continuing to sleep in flood-damaged properties as the public housing provider struggles to meet the sheer demand for homes.

Recent flooding has resulted in hundreds of Kāinga Ora properties being damaged in the Auckland region and the number of displaced people has soared.

Among the state housing tenants affected is Aileen Jack, whose Māngere home was flooded on Auckland Anniversary Weekend, destroying her furniture and appliances.

Jack said the only thing that prevented her property flooding a second time during the height of Cyclone Gabrielle this week was the decision by her family to help her sandbag her Elmdon St property.

Road workers had shut off part of her street on Monday night which runs over the nearby Te Ararata Creek because of the rising water levels.

The creek, which is less than 100m from her house, rises rapidly during storms and after the recent floods she wasn't taking any chances.

"I was looking out the curtains with my torch to see how high the water was," she said.

Jack said she was told by Kāinga Ora she could continue to live in the home as the upstairs area hadn't been affected by last month's flooding.

But she finds it hard to get up and down the stairs and is now living on the ground floor.

She's lived in her Elmdon St house for the last 19 years and, despite losing thousands of dollars worth of household items in last month's flooding, said she doesn't want to leave.

Jack said she'd been sleeping on a camp stretcher in her lounge and has replaced her lounge furniture with plastic chairs she bought from the Warehouse.

"If there's another flood the plastic chairs will be all right," Jack said.

Kāinga Ora deputy chief executive for Auckland and Northland Caroline Butterworth said it had been a very difficult few weeks for the housing agency and its tenants.

"We are rehousing customers from the worst affected houses, however if people can continue to safely live in their homes, and are keen to stay put in their community, we're encouraging that because we only have a limited number of homes available in Auckland," she said.

"We'll continually assess each individual situation to make sure the home is safe and healthy for them to live in until full repairs can be done, and will rehouse them if it turns out they can't live well in that home."

According to Kāinga Ora, 560 of its properties in the Auckland region were damaged during last month's flooding.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Vicki Sykes said, with the number of people already on the national housing waiting list, Kāinga Ora clearly didn't have the resources to meet demand.

Sykes said the trust had been approached by people affected by both events, but unless they were already on the housing waiting list most community housing providers couldn't help.

But she said allowing state housing tenants to stay in flood affected properties was a real concern and highlighted the massive shortage of housing in the region.

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National Emergency Management Agency advice:

Put safety first. Don't take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.

Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles.

If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home.

If you don't need to evacuate, support those who do by staying home, staying off roads and staying safe.

If you are not able to contact your whānau in the heavily affected areas go to Police 105 website and complete the inquiry form or phone 105 and remember to update if you reconnect through other means.

Throw away food and drinking water that has come into contact with floodwater as it is often contaminated and can make you sick.

If you are without power eat the food from your fridge first, then your freezer. Then eat the food in the cupboard or your emergency kit.

People should stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of civil defence and emergency services.

A National State of Emergency is in place for an initial period of seven days and applies to regions that have declared a local State of Emergency.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting