Storm may be hit or miss for Manawatu

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 09:00 15/03/2014

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Power cuts and isolated flooding are possibilities in Manawatu this weekend as Cyclone Lusi passes by.

But organisers of a free outdoor concert in Palmerston North tomorrow are hoping it will be fine enough for the show to go on.

The worst of the storm is expected to miss the Manawatu but local authorities have been preparing regardless. Council senior civil engineer Troy Ramsay said city drains had been cleaned out as a precaution. "There is a concern that this weekend's predicted rain and wind could lead to significant leaf fall, which may block sumps leading to isolated pockets of street flooding," Mr Ramsay said.

"We're asking residents to keep an eye on their streets and, if you are able to, then please help keep the gutters clean. You can either compost the leaves or place them on the berm or footpath, where possible, and ring the contact centre so these can be removed."

Council contact centre manager Peter Roberts said the usual weekend team would be on board.

However, a large number of council staff had volunteered to be on call. "We'll be able to up-scale our response very quickly if and when it's needed," Mr Roberts said.

The Manawatu-Whanganui civil defence and emergency management group has advised people to stay abreast of local weather forecasts. While there were no specific weather warnings for the region at present, high winds were expected and Horizons Regional Council emergency manager Ian Lowe said it was best to be prepared.

"Weather forecasts and warnings are likely to change as the cyclone moves closer and its potential impacts become clear," Mr Lowe said. "While we're not expecting a massive amount of rain at this stage, we are anticipating severe gales across the region over Saturday and Sunday. As always with high winds, there is the potential for power cuts."

Organisers of the free concert in The Square tomorrow, featuring Benny Tipene and the Black Seeds, are still hoping to be able to hold it outdoors. A decision was to be made this morning on whether to move it to the Regent on Broadway.

MetService issued a severe-weather watch for parts of the North Island this weekend, with heavy rain expected from Northland down to Taihape, Taumarunui and Gisborne as Cyclone Lusi arrives after cutting a deadly path through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The storm was expected to weaken before it reached Manawatu.

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- Manawatu Standard

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