A flood of questions need answers

Left to right Andrew Skelton, Sharon Stewart, Tery Patterson, Simeon Brown, Wally Rice and Marilyn Bakker have a chat after the public meeting at Pakuranga Bowling Club. Times photo Farida Master. By Farida Master

Some hard questions were asked at a public meeting hosted by Howick ward Councillor Sharon Stewart to discuss the ongoing concerns due to the recent storms, flooding and coastal erosion in Howick and Pakuranga areas.

Andrew Skelton, Healthy Waters Operations south team manager, Doug Pirni, senior Healthy Waters specialist and Sarah Sinclair, director Auckland emergency management Civil Defence, had a flood of questions to answer as more than 100 people attended the meeting at the Pakuranga Bowling Club on Tuesday evening.

The meeting that was well moderated by Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga had a large turnout from home owners in Cockle Bay, Glenmore Road and Angelo Ave catchments, as well as Cheriton Road, Mellons Bay and Gossamer Drive—areas severely affected by a spate of storms and floods this year—on January 4, April 11 and June 3.

“On June 3 there was a record rainfall where Howick and Pakuranga received most of the rainfall,” said Mr Skelton from Healthy Waters, the department responsible for stormwater infrastructure.

“The intensity of 30mm in 25 minutes is up to 25 to 50 year storm event for some areas which caused some serious damage.

“We have been working extensively in these areas to engineer solutions but these are short term. For long term solutions it takes long to plan.”

While everyone in the room demanded that they get value for the rates they pay, some of the questions asked were: “Why are resource consents for building being given even when there is flooding in those areas that we can’t cope with”?

“We haven’t seen anyone sweep the leaves off the grates in the streets for years now…. why are people not informed that they must clear it themselves?”

“What about the ongoing danger to properties by the creek in Cockle Bay that gets badly affected when there are heavy rains and high tides? Is any action being taken?”

“Why are people not being fined when they don’t follow Auckland Council bylaws and dump debris into streams?”

While Cr Stewart was disappointed that Auckland Transport failed to show up at the meeting, she was all praise for the work that Healthy Waters has been doing, working round-the-clock to help residents.

She said she will arrange for one-on-one meetings with residents from every catchment affected by the floods.

“We suggest you bring along photographs and video footage that will give Healthy Waters a bigger picture.”