After the flood: A renter's firsthand experience
An Auckland renter shares his experience cleaning up after the Auckland flood.
“I just stood there in shock,” Lachie said. “[The water] just kept going up and up. It all happened within like an hour and a half.”
Lachie had just popped home to get changed before heading out for dinner with his girlfriend on Friday 27 January.
Rain had been falling in Auckland for most of the day, with the heavens opening during the evening.
By the time the couple went to leave the Epsom house, water was coming through the front door.
Thankfully, Lachie’s four flatmates were home so the group started putting bricks and towels in front of the door to stem the flow.
Then a flatmate remembered their cars parked out on the street. While they ran out to save them, they only managed to get two cars to dry land.
Back inside, the group then started moving furniture from the ground and first floor up onto the second and third floors of the house.
All the while, water built up outside, and the pressure of the water blew the front door open.
The flatmates waited on the third floor and were prepared to stay the night in the flooded house; but without power and water, and phone batteries running low, they decided to find somewhere else to stay.
Thankfully, a friend came by with a four-wheel drive and a kayak to rescue the group. Overnight bags were thrown into the kayak, while the group swam out of the property.
“We literally had to swim out of the place […], at that point the water was still and really deep, I could barely touch the bottom. I had to actually breaststroke out.”
Going back to the flat the next day was a surreal experience. After all the rain the day before the sun was shining, and Lachie got sunburnt while clearing out the house.
The most frustrating part of the clean-up was where to put all the rubbish. While there was a skip on the street, it was over-flowing. He had phoned the council to organise collection, but he said it was a nightmare trying to get someone to collect it.
No contents insurance
Lachie didn’t have contents insurance because most of his household items were bought second-hand or hand-me-downs.
“We had like couches and a lot of stuff in the kitchen and all that was destroyed,” Lachie said.
Because his flatmates were home at the time of the flood and were able to move furniture up to a higher level, the damage to their stuff was minimal.
However, he does think contents insurance is probably a good idea.
“I’ve always been very frugal and never spent a lot on furniture […] but I know for sure if I ever buy anything of decent value, I’ll have insurance on it.”
He doesn’t have a couch and needs to buy another fridge; the flood damaged one has been relegated to a beer fridge. He’s been looking online for second-hand furniture.
When buying privately, consumers don’t have the same protections as buying from a retailer. To know more about your rights buying privately, check out our top ten tips when buying second-hand.
Car insurance: what to look out for
Lachie had third-party insurance on his 2003 Nissan Pulsar. Third-party policies provide cover if you’ve damaged someone else’s car or property, but not for damage to your vehicle, or in natural disasters.
Most comprehensive car insurance policies will have some cover for natural disasters.
While his car worked for two weeks after the floods, one day it just wouldn’t start. He ended up selling it straight to the wreckers for $450. In the meantime, he can use his work car to get around.
“I just wish I realised my car was under water faster, and had more time to move it,” Lachie said.
Lachie stopped paying rent immediately and got his bond back. However, it was difficult to get in touch with his property manager after the flood.
“It was scary the first few days of not hearing anything … because, at this time of year anyway, it’s really difficult to find a place to rent with uni students coming back.”
Thankfully he could borrow a work car to view flats. One of the flats he viewed he reckoned had been damaged in the flood.
The carpet had been freshly laid, and there was no furniture on the first floor. He could also see the tide line from where the water had been.
Lachie said the rental prices had gone up, too. The group has found a place to live in Mount Albert for $150 more than what they were paying in their Epsom house.
Six weeks after the flood
Neither Lachie nor his flatmates had been in a flood before. He’s not sure there’s a right or wrong way to manage similar emergencies.
“Even while the water was quickly rising, I remember us saying there was no right way to go about things.”
He’s grateful for his flatmates being home at the time of the flood, being able to crash at his mate’s place, and having the use of his work car.
“The last month has been pretty hectic finding a new place and all that,” said Lachie.
Before the flood, it had never occurred to Lachie to check whether a property was flood prone when looking for a place to live.
“Now, it would be the number one thing I take into consideration.”