New Zealanders brace for worst storm in a generation

New Zealand authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations and floods are threatening homes as Cyclone Cook arrives in the Bay of Plenty.

Some locals in parts of the North Island had already fled their homes following the announcement by the authorities ahead of the storm's landfall.

Two people were hospitalized after the auto in which they were travelling was hit by a falling tree.

Air New Zealand suspended flights from Tauranga Airport and the military placed 500 troops on standby.

Over the next 24 h, the Cyclone is expected to move south, crossing the North Island (New Zealand).

Cyclone Debbie hit Australia at the end of March, before its remnants moved towards New Zealand.

The tropical depression, the tail-end of ex-Cyclone Cook which hit New Caledonia this week, has already generated offshore winds of more than 170 kmh.

"We are now experiencing widespread outages across our network regions as the wild weather wreaks havoc on the network", power company Unison, which provides power to Hawke's Bay said on Thursday evening. A auto is driven through a flooded road near the Kaeo River in the upper North Island of New Zealand, Thursday, April 13, 2017.

Officials are warning of "major impacts" in those areas, with heavy rain and "damaging to destructive winds" leading to hazardous driving conditions.

Winds could reach 150km/h, according to the MetService.

New Zealanders began cleaning up Friday after a powerful storm swept across the country, forcing families from their homes and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

It also tracked further east than thought so Auckland wasn't badly hit.

The MetService weather agency predicted rainfall could exceed 100 millimetres in some places and cause more flooding in areas still recovering from heavy rainfall last week.

Ministry deputy secretary Katrina Casey says the closures affect all 57 schools and about 80 ECEs in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, as well as schools on Great Barrier Island, Waiheke, Franklin area, Thames and Coromandel. In Auckland, a city of one and 1 1/2 million people, residents were advised to seek shelter and cancel Easter plans.

  • Leroy Wright