Cyclone Gabrielle has knocked out power to 58,000 homes in New Zealand’s north.
Authorities have issued severe weather warnings, and hundreds of flights have been canceled.
As Gabrielle approaches the North Island, some areas have declared a state of emergency.
It comes just weeks after record rainfall in Auckland and surrounding areas caused floods and killed four people.
Kieran McAnulty, minister of emergency management, said at a press conference on Monday that the government is considering declaring a national state of emergency for the third time in the country’s history.
Five northern regions, including Auckland, have already declared a state of emergency. The declaration empowers local governments to respond to dangerous situations by restricting travel and providing aid.
Metservice reported that Whangarei, a city north of Auckland, had received 100.5mm (4 inches) of rain in the previous 12 hours.
Mr. McAnulty went on to say that Monday would be a “critical day” because of the “highly dangerous” combination of high winds and heavy rain. Northland was battered by winds of up to 140km/h (87mph), while Auckland Harbour Bridge was rocked by gusts of 110km/h.
He warned that restoring the power grid could take days because the bad weather made it “unsafe” to work on the network.
Despite the fact that the cyclone has yet to make landfall, it has already uprooted trees, damaged roads, and brought down power lines.
Many schools and local government facilities have closed across Auckland and the North Island, and people are being advised not to travel if at all possible.
Meanwhile, 509 flights were canceled, affecting approximately 10,000 international Air New Zealand customers. Normal service is expected to resume on Tuesday, with the national carrier adding 11 additional domestic flights to its schedule to aid in recovery efforts.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was reportedly stranded in Auckland due to flight cancellations, forcing the Cabinet meeting to be held online.
Mr Hipkins had previously urged people to take severe weather warnings seriously and to be prepared.
The cyclone is the second major weather event to strike Auckland and the North Island in as many weeks.
According to authorities, the two large events have strained the emergency and recovery response system.