An elderly woman in Auckland’s North Shore said she was told to jump on her bed to escape floodwaters during Friday’s deluge, but her community housing provider said as soon as the situation was clear they called for evacuation assistance.
Stephanie (who wanted to be identified only by her first name) told RNZ’s First Up the organization that ran the village she lives at (Alma Court village in Milford) gave her that message after her second call for help.
She first called Haumaru Housing about midday on Friday 27 January.
The 77-year-old said she knew early on that the steady rain would cause significant damage.
The area had already taken a lashing during the weather bomb in March last year.
She said she contacted Haumaru Housing after water started flowing out from the culvert behind the property.
“Well I said ‘honestly you’ve got to send somebody’ and all they sent over was a plumber.”
“He took one look and said ‘this is dangerous, we can’t do anything’.”
Stephanie said she rang her housing provider again.
“I said there is water coming through I can’t cope with it, and they said ‘jump on your bed’.”
But she told them she needed someone to come and rescue her.
“By this time, at the front, the whole garden and everything was covered in water like a lake.”
At least three other neighboring houses had also been flooded.
Stephanie said water rose from ankle level to “chest-deep” within minutes.
“I had to think about saving my life.”
Dressed in just track pants and a t-shirt, Stephanie said, she grabbed a bag and jacket and left home.
Stephanie said her car was submerged in water.
“We got out down the driveway, and that was quite a job, it took three guys because I am so light I was getting pulled away.”
Stephanie said one of the men who rescued her on Friday told her the force of the water was so severe, he was worried even he would be swept off his feet
She said the floodwaters came down like a “raging river”.
“I think we should have been evacuated earlier.”
Stephanie, who had existing health conditions, said she lost feeling in her hands and feet after getting out of the flood.
Her car was insured, but she had no contents insurance.
Stephanie said the residents of the village should not have to foot the bill.
Haumaru Housing said in a statement they called emergency services as soon as it became clear an urgent situation was developing at the village and requested priority assistance for their tenants.
“We are reviewing the call log and our conversations with the tenant in question, and the action that was taken at the time, but are confident that we responded in a timely and appropriate manner to the concerns as they were raised.
“The flooding at Alma Court was an unprecedented event, due to the nearby creek bursting its banks following the excessive rainfall on Friday, and our teams responded as quickly as possible to the situation as it evolved.
“We continue to be in direct contact with the six tenants of Alma Court who were evacuated and to provide ongoing assistance as required.”
Haumaru Housing said they had carried out assessments in the villages that were impacted and identified priority repairs to tenants’ homes.
“Our contractors have been on site since Saturday attending to the clean-up.”