Auckland Anniversary floods: Reflecting on day of deluge one year on

One year ago today, Aucklanders started to feel the serious effects of intense rain that led to 10,000 properties being flooded.

Over four days more rain fell than it would normally in six months. And that's even before Cyclone Gabrielle hit.

But when the damage from those combined events was totalled up it led to a $2 billion recovery package being drawn up by the Crown and Auckland Council.

Around 3500 different repair projects have been identified. That includes roads, wastewater infrastructure, parks and facilities.

At least 7000 stickers were placed on at-risk properties in the immediate aftermath. And more than 1000 still have them attached one year later.

While 93 properties have been bought out, the total number is expected to reach about 600.

Newshub looks back on the devastating event and what's happened since.

Welcome back to Clover Drive, Henderson, where houses are now boarded up.

It was a busy suburban street before January 27, 2023. On that day, the rain started and didn't stop. By the time Newshub cameras arrived, the neighbourhood was underwater as residents struggled to make it out.

"If we were standing where we were on the day, we'd be swimming," community group West Auckland Is Flooding chair Lyall Carter.

"This street was inundated with flood water and the viewers would remember seeing camera shots up here of people trying to escape and holding things above their heads, and holding children. Very harrowing."

Carter lives just around the corner and said this is reminiscent of many streets in Auckland's west - deserted.

"It's just devastating for our community and these people have been displaced. They no longer live here, no longer live in our community, and we miss them," Carter said.

Things quickly turned bad that afternoon. If only a way forward moved at the same pace. However many still don't know whether they'll be bought out or stay put.

"Our people need certainty and so the categorisation should have happened months ago," Carter said.

"For a large number of Aucklanders, they have been stuck in the Auckland Anniversary flood, on that date, because time has stood still for them."

The chaos around Auckland that day was mirrored somewhat by the chaos at Auckland Council. Mayor Wayne Brown copped it at the time.

He's already apologised for the council's, and his own, shortcomings - but maintains he was laser-focused on steering the city through a disaster and recovery.

"I think the media focussed on the wrong questions, it's as simple as that. They were worried about empathy, we'd had six years of empathy [and] that got voted out. What they want is people who will face the issues and do something about it," he told Newshub.

But his main takeaway is what, and where, Aucklanders should be allowed to build.

"I looked straight out there when I visited and thought, 'my god, these people are always going to flood. How did they get allowed to build in such an unfortunate place?'" Brown told Newshub.

Then there's the infrastructure recovery - Watercare's works programme from last year's storm events alone will cost at least $100 million, and involves more than 200 damaged assets.

"This is probably the biggest natural disaster that we have faced, that we've had to put repairs in place for. It was huge - a huge impact for our community and for our infrastructure," Watercare general manager asset renewals and upgrades Suzanne Lucas told Newshub.

That stuff will be built back stronger but some communities will never be the same. Carter said his community has changed forever.

"For our street, all of our mates are gone. And it's anyone's guess what's going to happen with our street," he said.

The water drained as quickly as it came that day but it took so much with it.