Trees uprooted, lines down as southerly slams Wairarapa

While Wairarapa escaped the worst of the destructive storm, the high winds still smashed trees, cut telephone wires and toppled power poles.

About 60 homes were still without power in the region last night.

A Masterton woman had to evacuate her home after strong winds forced a tree on to her roof.

Cameron Crescent resident Susan Rogers said she was at home watching the tree sway in the wind before it leaned right over, partly pulling down a power line.

Ms Rogers said she was going to her niece's house. "I don't want to be here if it does fall."

Masterton fire station officer Kevin Smith said a fire crew waited for the power company to switch the current off so they could secure the tree.

Pirinoa resident Maurice Tipoki said a power pole snapped outside his house in Whakatomotomo Rd, south of Martinborough, on Thursday night and "flopped down" over his driveway.

The power was not cut then, but was later the next morning as the power company repaired the damage.

"I've got some lambs over there; I hope they don't get zapped," Mr Tipoki said.

He described the area behind his house as a "war zone", with a dozen big, old trees and fences smashed.

"All night I was hearing thump, thump. I thought: there goes another one. I had a row of six big trees in one spot and only one is left standing. They'd be a hundred-plus years old. We've got a bit of firewood for next winter."

One tree narrowly missed one of his best heading dogs. "She nearly died - the big trunk ended about eight foot from her kennel, with branches all over it . . . I gave her a call and she pushed through the branches and I managed to grab her and take the chain off."

Farmers fired up their chainsaws to clear three large toppled trees that had blocked Whakatomotomo Rd. Meanwhile, sparks flew from a tree that caught fire after it fell on live power lines in Pirinoa Rd. Farm worker Colin Jones, who discovered the fire, said: "The tree squashed the power lines and there was a small fire crackling under it, about two metres high, with sparks and a hell of a lot of smoke. I certainly didn't want to go near it."

Martinborough fire chief Garry Jackson said a fence under the fallen lines might have been live, so his crew waited at the scene for the power to be cut.

He said the scene at Pirinoa was dramatic. "There are trees down everywhere; they're copping it 10 times worse than what we are [in Martinborough]. They had a pretty rugged night."

A large eucalypt was felled yesterday by strong winds in Carterton, and damaged a power pole, cutting power to a house, local fire chief Wayne Robinson said.

In another incident, telephone lines came down across Brooklyn Rd about 8.45am yesterday. One house was affected.

Lake Ferry Hotel worker Erina Kawai said Lake Onoke was higher than normal, due to the wind and a "huge sea". "The sea is real big, the [lake] mouth's closed." Large waves were breaking over the bank and on the foreshore, she said.

Workers from Powerco contractors Tenix had to pull a power pole back upright after high winds toppled it yesterday on a rural road south of Greytown.

The Dominion Post