Storm clean up begins

GHOSTLY CRASH: Palmerston North’s newest sculpture, Ghost Tower, proved no match for Thursday's strong winds.
GHOSTLY CRASH: Palmerston North’s newest sculpture, Ghost Tower, proved no match for Thursday's strong winds.

Powerco expects to restore power to all properties affected by yesterday’s severe winds by the end of the day.

By 7am this morning it had restored electricity to more than 17,000 properties, but there were still about 8000 customers in the North Island without supply, acting electricity operations manager Phil Marsh said.

Among those are properties in Aokautere, Apiti, Mangaweka, and Rangiwahia.

The utility’s website indicates Aokautere residents, who were without electricity yesterday, lost power again about 9.30pm. Current estimates are that supply should have been restored by late morning.

Powerco also expects to have Apiti, Mangaweka, and Rangiwahia back on line at the same time.

At one stage yesterday there were about 9300 properties in Manawatu and Rangitikei without electricity as a result of the storm that caused widespread damage in much of the North Island.

Powerco is still warning the public to keep clear of any remaining downed power lines.

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. A Central police communications said although emergency services in the area had had a busy day, there were no major incidents.

‘‘We’ve got a lot of damage, mainly trees down, power lines down, all weather related, not too much on crashes,’’ he said.

Palmerston North City Council spokesman Daniel O’Regan said yesterday the council had several reports 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.

‘‘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.
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.’’

Metservice is forecasting the heavy rain band will slowly ease during the day as it slides further south over the southeast of the South Island.

It says weather will improve in its wake, but a couple of troughs along with convergence and daytime heating will cause showers and thunderstorms across the North Island and far north of the South Island today.

Manawatu Standard