State of Emergency declared for Northland

12 Feb 2023, 4:35 PM

A precautionary state of emergency has been declared for Northland as at 4.30pm Sunday 12 February, for an initial period of seven days, as part of the regional response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

The emergency declaration was requested by Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Controller Graeme MacDonald and signed by CDEM Group chair Kelly Stratford. An Emergency Mobile Alert advising of the declaration is being sent to phones in Northland which are capable of receiving the alerts.

Mr MacDonald says emergency declarations are relatively rare in Northland, with only six emergency declarations in the past 50 years, some of which affected only parts of the region. (The most recent declaration was less than a fortnight ago on 31 January and covered the entire region.)

“Declaring an emergency is a step under our legislation which allows the Civil Defence Controller and/or those to whom they delegate authority, access to emergency powers, granting authority to protect life and property in extraordinary emergency events under the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act 2002.”

The most commonly-used emergency powers include evacuating premises and places, entering premises, closing roads and public places, removing aircraft, vessels, vehicles etc and requisitioning property, equipment, material or supplies. Of these, enabling evacuations is often the key reason for an emergency declaration.

Mr MacDonald says the MetService has today (12 February) issued rare red warnings, used for the most severe events, forecasting both severe winds and rain in the coming days.

Its red rain warning covers the period from 10am today until 12am Tuesday 14 February and predicts 200-300mm of rain south of Kaeo and 100-180mm north of Kaeo over this time.

The red wind warning is valid from noon today to 9pm Tuesday 14 February. The MetService is forecasting severe gales, with gusts reaching 120 to 130 kmh (or possibly higher) from Monday depending on Cyclone Gabrielle's track.

“Winds should initially be east to southeast, then are expected to turn south to southwest later on Monday and into Tuesday.”

Mr MacDonald says at this stage officials still don’t know for sure that they will need to make use of the emergency powers an emergency declaration gives them, but given the worst of the forecast weather has yet to come, had made the decision to make the declaration as a precaution.

“This will ensure we have those extra powers available to us should we need them.”

Northland Civil Defence – along with all of the region's emergency services and partner agencies - continue to urge Northlanders to take the current weather event very seriously.

Emergency services and partner agencies such councils and contractors, health and welfare agencies have all been making co-ordinated preparations, holding regular briefings and sharing information. Police, Fire and Emergency, Hato Hone St John and NZ Defence Force have all brought additional personnel and equipment into the region.

Mr MacDonald asked Northlanders to continue to stay up-to-date with weather forecasts and official information, have a plan in case they need to evacuate, check on neighbours, avoid non-essential travel and take extreme care if it was necessary to be on the roads.

Civil Defence will be keeping a close eye on the weather as it develops and will post any key updates on its Facebook page: