Severe weather smashes Manawatu

Last updated 21:04 17/04/2014
Lauren Kaney
TRAMPOLINE TROUBLES: Lauren Kaney sent in this photo with the caption: "my tramp flipped over my car and headed towards the neighbours, is now tied to the fence with power cords and weighted down with big rocks, had nothing else!"
Lisa Anne
FENCE DAMAGE: Lisa Anne sent in this photo of damage to a fence near Tokomaru.

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Power is gradually being restored to Manawatu and Rangitikei, where about 9300 properties were without power earlier today as the storm that battered the region caused widespread damage in much of the North Island.

Powerco acting Electricity Operations Manager Phil Marsh said severe weather had caused a number of power cuts the region from about 11.20am.

Powerco says power has been restored to Aokautere, Ashhurst, Pohangina and Kimbolton.

Apiti, Mangaweka, Rangiwahia are still reported to be without power. 

Mr Marsh said there were more than 350 sites with lines down across its networks, but more than 240 staff were working on the repair effort.

"There are currently around 25,000 customers on Powerco’s networks across the North Island without supply and more than half of these power cuts could have been avoided if tree owners had trimmed or felled trees growing near power lines, which is frustrating."

He warned that power lines that had fallen to the ground may look safe but were often still live.

"Stay away from any downed power lines and call Powerco’s emergency number, 0800 272727."

Central police communications said police in the area had their hands full.

"We’re very busy at the moment. We’ve got a lot of damage, mainly trees down, power lines down, all weather related, not too much on crashes."

He described the situation as "a bit of a mess at this stage".

"There are several roads closed because of power lines and trees all over the place between Palmerston North and New Plymouth. There are slips and all sorts of things."

Palmerston North City Council spokesman Daniel O’Regan said this afternoon the council had several reportes of branches down. There were a few blocked culverts that had caused flooding and some business signs were blowing around causing problems.

Robin Reece was sitting at the kitchen table in her Glen Pl home in Awapuni when a medium-sized tree that had been standing since she had moved in fell down close to her windows just before 1.30pm.

"It’s quite lucky it didn’t come through the window – it’s close to the house," she said. 

"The room’s suddenly become a lot brighter as a result of it though."

In Horowhenua, firefighters had to re-secure an air-conditioning unit to a building on Oxford St at 11.40am, a fire communications spokesman said.

There were also reports of a trampoline blown onto the Main Trunk Line from Plimmer Tce in Shannon.

Metservice meteorologist Melissa Roux said Palmerston North received 13.2mm of rain today, with the strongest wind gust of 90kmh recorded at 3pm.

In the Tararua range, the Angle Knob station recorded the highest rainfall, 113.5mm. Four other stations recorded rain between 90mm and 100mm.

Winds gusted up to 110kmh in high places.

On roads, the New Zealand Transport Agency issued a caution to motorists planning to travel on the Desert Rd or State Highway 56 and 57 between Opiki and Shannon to be wary of strong winds.

It also advised Easter travellers to take extra care on the Manawatu Gorge Rd, State Highway 3, due to a risk of rockfalls.

Horizons Regional Council acting chief executive Craig Grant said the council was monitoring the situation and would continue to do so over the weekend.

"It’s indicated the heavy rainfall predicted is moving south west of the Region. We are expecting it to stay wet and windy through to Monday but aren’t anticipating any long periods of continuous rainfall in any catchments."

Grant said people were reminded to secure any items that could be blown around in the severe wind. 
"We’ll also be keeping an eye on tidal surges on the east coast."

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