New Zealanders are vacating towns along North Island’s north-east coast, ahead of what is being called the worst storm in generations. Cyclone Cook is expected to arrive at 18:00 local time (06:00 GMT) over Bay of Plenty. Authorities have cautioned the public of landslides, storm and high waves.
It comes as a consequence of severe floods caused by the fragments of Cyclone Debbie that had hit some parts of the country last week. Some Parts of New Zealand’s North Island are now under a state of emergency, and the people living in the low-lying parts have been asked to leave immediately. Cyclone Cook, which is expected to carry winds up to 150km/h (93 mph), is expected to hit South Island on Friday. The Bay of Plenty, which witnessed flooding last week caused by the tail end of Cyclone Debbie, is expecting 300mm (11in) of rain to fall, which means some houses may be flooded again.
One local, Ian Jenkins, was fishing on Lake Taupo together with his wife when they saw a whirling cyclone approach across the water. “It was very calm, hardly a breeze” and suddenly the weather began to change. Schools and businesses across the island have been shut early while residents in Auckland, which has already seen flooding, have been keeping up on emergency supplies. The New Zealand military and emergency service teams are on standby. Flights across the country have either been delayed or cancelled, and national carrier Air New Zealand has temporarily closed its operations from Tauranga Airport in North Island.