The Auckland floods – Rahul’s story

29 May 2023

Rahul’s home is one of 200 declared uninhabitable in Auckland after the flooding in late January.  

When the flooding started, Rahul was in his home in Henderson as he watched the water rapidly wash through his ground-floor apartment. Rahul only had his mobile phone and the clothes on his back when he managed to escape, leaving everything else behind.  

Rahul thought he had nowhere to go. Still in shock at what was happening, Rahul tried to save his home by attempting to repair some of the damage on his own and planned to sleep in his car. It was only when Rahul’s friend, Ashneed, learned this was Rahul’s plan that he told him about the evacuation centre at St Leonards Road School. "...bro, you can’t sleep alone in your car; there are people who can help you!"  

Having abandoned all of his belongings to escape to safety, Rahul, a welder by trade, didn’t even have a uniform that enabled him to work. 

"Red Cross were smiling and friendly when I arrived," Rahul said.  

Finding a safe and supportive space

New Zealand Red Cross people provided practical and psychosocial support for anyone arriving at the evacuation centre. They were able to help Rahul find a new uniform so he could resume working. Regaining a sense of routine and familiarity helps people like Rahul who have been caught in an emergency start to take back their independence again.  

Over the few days that Rahul spent at the evacuation centre, he started to feel calmer and even managed to joke with our volunteers.

“The service here is amazing! I want to live here,” he said.

Our Disaster Welfare and Response Teams have already spent more than 5,000 hours helping communities across Aotearoa New Zealand in 2023, who have been impacted by heart-breaking weather-related emergencies as well as Cyclone Gabrielle.   

During Rahul’s time at the evacuation centre, he met with Sarah our trained occupational therapist and Psychosocial Advisor in the New Zealand Red Cross First Aid team.

Sarah explained, "Our job is to provide a safe and supportive place for people who are in distress. Adrenaline helps you get through the first few hours of an emergency. But it doesn’t last long, and that is when you start to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. This is where we come in and where psychological first aid is so important." 

For more information

New Zealand Red Cross has supported communities before, during and after disasters for nearly 100 years.

Disaster and emergency support

Find out how about the New Zealand Disaster Fund and how to donate.

New Zealand Disaster Fund hub

Find out how to look after yourself and others in an emergency.

Caring for yourself and others

Enrol for free mental health training.

Free mental health training for emergency-affected communities

Lead photo: (Left to right) Asneed, Sarah, Rahul.