By Jane Wardell
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand was bracing for potential flooding and landslips on Tuesday as the remnants of Cyclone Debbie made landfall, a week after the powerful storm hit neighboring Australia where three people were killed by subsequent floods.
The New Zealand Met office warned people on New Zealand's north island to prepare for heavy rainfall for the next several days, with some areas forecast to receive a month's worth of rain in the next 24 hours.
"It's not a quick hit, it's a gradual process -- a lot of rain is expected to fall over most parts of the North Island and upper South Island," Met Service duty forecaster Raveen Das said.
New Zealand's mountainous terrain makes its roads susceptible to landslides and many regions are still recovering from a 7.8 magnitude quake that struck near Christchurch in November, causing substantial damage to infrastructure.
The country's Civil Defence force is on standby.
Cyclone Debbie, a Category Four storm, one short of the most powerful level five, pounded Australia's Queensland state on Tuesday, smashing tourist resorts, bringing down power lines and shutting down coal mines.
Three people were killed in Australia when they were caught in floodwaters that swamped the country's east coast in the aftermath and Australia's Defence Force was deployed to help deliver medical personnel and supplies to communities in the north of the state.
The disaster zone stretched 1,000 km (600 miles) from Queensland state's tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state.
The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the event a catastrophe, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in losses and state officials have warned recovery and repairs will take months as many areas remain subject to evacuation orders.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)