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Auckland flooding: Members praised as clubs pick up pieces

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Yacht clubs affected by the flooding that caused widespread damage across Auckland and other parts of the North Island have praised their members and volunteers for help with recovery efforts – but fear it could be some time before operations are fully restored.

Four people died and the city was plunged into a state of emergency following unprecedented downpours on Friday, January 27.

More than 270 houses have been red-stickered in the city and close to 1600 houses have been yellow-stickered, with Auckland Emergency Management warning the clean-up “could take years”.

Most of the region’s beaches have also been closed and a rāhui placed in the inner Waitematā Harbour by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei following wastewater spills.

Milford Cruising Club is one of the clubs affected, with its clubhouse sustaining significant flood damage during the deluge.

"It's a pretty difficult cleanup job. We've had a great response from our members to help but then a number of them cleaning up the slipway and marina came down with gastro illness because of the untreated sewerage that flowed through," MCC Commodore Andrew Robertson said.

"We don't know when we'll actually be clean or when it will be business as usual. We’ve suffered some significant loss with the whole base area of the clubhouse flooded to up to half a meter."

Milford Cruising Club suffered 'significant flood damage.

Milford Cruising Club suffered 'significant' flood damage.

A boat was stranded on Milford Beach during the downpour.

A boat was stranded on Milford Beach during the downpour. 

Club members attempted to save boats that had become unmoored.

Club members attempted to save boats that had become unmoored. 

According to Robertson, the club’s appliances used for catering, as well as most of the internal walls, have been compromised by the mix of sewage, saltwater, freshwater and mud.

"We had a brand-new lift installed only three, four years ago and the manufacturer has advised us that it will have to be replaced at a cost of about $70,000," he said.

"Fortunately, our junior sailing gear wasn’t damaged as they’re designed to get wet, and we had members pulling them out, washing them down, cleaning and drying them."

The club’s office has been temporarily moved upstairs to the members’ bar. Several boats in the marina became unmoored, with one stranded on Milford Beach.

"We remain grateful that the damage wasn’t worse as many houses in the immediate area suffered partial or total losses," Robertson said. "And we certainly could not have managed as well as we have without the help of the community. Many of them were out there trying to save other people’s boats in dangerous conditions and have continued to help since the flooding."

The Coastguard building at French Bay was destroyed by a slide.

The Coastguard building at French Bay Yacht Club was destroyed by a slide.

At French Bay Yacht Club in west Auckland, cleanup efforts have been hampered by closed roads and a lack of fresh water.

The flooding caused dozens of slips in the suburb of Titirangi, cutting off water supply to much of the area.

The Coastguard building next to the club at the end of Otitori Bay Road was destroyed by one of these slips, and demolition work has still not been completed as access to the site remains blocked.

Commodore Jonny Knopp said while the club building suffered no damage, some scheduled events have been unable to go ahead and further cancellations are expected.

"We can’t operate at all as we have no water and we’re still waiting for insurers to assess the site," Knopp said.

"Our learn to sail programmes will start back up again this week – on-shore if it has to – but our season is set to start soon and at the moment we won’t be able to."

Meanwhile, clubs and community groups in Auckland are invited to a Sector Forum hosted by Aktive where an update will be provided about the outcome of the Funders Meeting recently held involving Sport NZ, Auckland Council, NZCT, The Lion Foundation, Foundation North, Four Winds Foundation and Grassroots Trust.   

"The recent Tāmaki Makaurau weather event is unprecedented for our region, with significant impact on infrastructure, families displaced, and communities stretched. We know this has had and will continue to have an impact on our sport and recreation sector, including people and their wellbeing, facilities, club rooms, equipment, fields and spaces – all this for a region that was and continues to be impacted by Covid-19," Aktive said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are committed to supporting the sector and getting sport and recreation in Tāmaki Makaurau back on its feet as soon as possible."

The forum will be held via Microsoft Teams between 2pm and 3.30pm on Friday, February 10.

To join click here.