Mark and Kim Harvey of Whangārei were among thousands who missed out on the Elton John concert due to flooding. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Three Northlanders who went to see Elton John perform in Auckland have described the harrowing experience of having to wade through rising floodwaters to get to safety after the show was cancelled.
Whangārei couple Mark and Kim Harvey and supermarket worker Sandra Rooney were among thousands that were turned around either from outside or inside the Mt Smart Stadium on Friday last week, just hours before a state of emergency was declared in the Super City.
Four people died from the widespread flooding that has blocked roads and cancelled events across the region since Friday. More rain and thunderstorms are forecast for Northland and Auckland this week.
The Harveys waited three years to attend Elton John’s farewell tour, which was on their bucket list.
They left Whangārei on Friday and had planned to stay with Kim Harvey’s sister in Glen Eden that night.
“I am 61 and my husband is 64, and we’ve lived in Auckland all our lives until we moved to Whangārei two years ago. We’ve never experienced flooding like this,” she said.
The couple lived in Onehunga and attended numerous concerts at Mt Smart Stadium over the years, including Adele, who performed during bad weather years ago – but that was nothing compared to what they endured on Friday.
“We thought we were the fortunate ones who got seats on the ground, fairly close to the stage. As we were about to sit down, we were told the concert has been cancelled. It was so close to starting.”
What happened next was unbelievable, she said.
“This definitely was next-level. I can’t put it in words. I was on crutches because I am waiting for a knee replacement, and we saw people falling over in floodwaters… there was so much water around the stadium.
“We waded through floodwaters. You had to be there, walking through the floods, not knowing what you are standing on or whether you’ll fall over. It was the worst experience in my 61 years of living,” Harvey said.
They got back to her sister’s home at 9.45pm.
Another former Aucklander, Rooney left Whangārei on Thursday and joined up with five family members for the concert the next day.
This was supposed to be her sixth Elton John concert.
The group left Rooney’s niece’s home on Neilson St in Onehunga — a 20-minute walk to the stadium — for the concert about 6.30pm and walked through deep puddles.
“We were just about to go to the gate to go in and people were coming out, saying the show had been cancelled. Water had risen up to [people’s] knees and up to the tyres of cars on Neilson St. It was really bad,” she recalled.
Rooney had planned to stay with her sister in Hillsborough, which was usually a 20-minute drive from the stadium, but it took her one and a half hours to pick her up.
“It felt like everyone was fleeing the area. On our way home, we drove through floodwaters, which I never experienced before. My instinct was to stop, but my uncle said to keep going. It was quite scary.”
She was supposed to work on Sunday, but had to reschedule her shift as she was stranded in Auckland.
“One would think something like this would never happen in Auckland, but it did. People have died and a state of emergency has been declared.”