Using IRBs, the lifeguards rescued 69 people, ferrying groups of five at a time to safety from workplaces along Target Road, Wairau Valley between 8:30pm and 10pm.

On Friday, January 27th an unprecedented about of rain fell, causing catastrophic flooding in the Auckland area – particularly on the North Shore. As a result of the flooding, Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club’s Search and Rescue squad - Sam Walters, Ben Miles, Joe Wilson, Harry Hickey, Steve Vaughan, Belle Kingi, Alicia Mackenzie, Grace Campbell, Harry Barea, Zoe MacReady - were activated and eventually tasked with many jobs across the North Shore. Four members of the squad - Walters, Miles, Wilson and Hickey - were on their way to Eastern Regional Championships and turned around at the Bombay Hills to return to MBSLC to join the efforts.

With floodwater rising across the Auckland region, they saw vehicles broken down on the motorway, cars being driven the wrong way on the motorway and were forced to exit and find alternate routes. For the North Shore-based members, it was a challenge simply getting to Mairangi Bay, with all having to walk some distance to get to the club.

By that stage, the water at the roundabout on the corner of Beach Road and Sidmouth Street was at hip depth and rising. As the squad prepped IRBs, water was at floor level of the containers which house the rescue equipment. Initially tasked to head to West Auckland, the squad was quickly re-tasked to attend SAR activities in Wairau Park and then
on to Wairau Road and lastly Nile Road – all on Auckland’s North Shore. At their rendezvous point in Wairau, the squad was met with rapidly rising floodwater, which went from thigh-high and relatively still to over-shoulder swift moving water.

They were then alerted to a search for a missing person near Sunnynook Bus Station who was last seen on a kayak. After searching for around an hour, the kayak had been found, but not the missing person – sadly, the kayaker would later be found dead.

At this point, the lifeguards were stood down for the night.

It is important to note that the MBSLSC SAR squad is made up of a diverse range of volunteer lifeguards who, at this time, put their lives in real danger to help others in need. Conditions on the night have been described as apocalyptic, and a local state of emergency was declared in response to the wake of the carnage.