Sounds storm chaos

ROBIN RAYMOND
Last updated 11:30 04/01/2013
Tasha Triplow
Emma Allen
Blown over: Tasha Triplow, who is camping at Havelock Motor Camp, checks her tent that was blown over and drenched in the storm on Wednesday night

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Winds gusting more than 100kmh overturned boats, cut power to more than 150 homes and destroyed tents during a storm that hit Marlborough late on Wednesday night.

MetService recorded winds of 150kmh at Stephens Island in the outer Sounds, while gusts reached 118kmh in other areas.

Jennie Johnson, from Johnson's Barge Services in Havelock, said the wind had flipped three 6-metre boats moored in the Sounds and the company was planning to salvage at least two of them today.

Department of Conservation visitor assets manager Mark Nelson said the campsite manager at its Keneperu campground had to abandon the site when his tent was destroyed by the wind, while another tent "disintegrated" at Momorangi Bay.

At Maud Island, DOC ranger assistant Linda Kilduff said she and her husband, ranger Chris Birmingham, had to retreat to the back of their house when the wind started flexing the aluminium-frame windows.

The storm was the wildest she had experienced in 18 months on Maud Island, Ms Kilduff said. The storm was strongest between 11pm and 1am, when most of the 11.4mm of rain was recorded.

The mainly fine and calm weather yesterday meant people were able to clean up and dry out.

Marlborough Lines network engineer Richard Steer said power had been cut to about 150 houses in Keneperu Sound for four hours. Power was also cut to seven houses in the Koromiko Valley and to nine houses on the Northbank near Onamalutu on Wednesday night.

Staff were unable to repair the lines until yesterday morning because it was too dangerous in the wind, he said.

At the Havelock Motor Camp tenter Annette Sheehy, from Tauranga, said the night had been "horrendous".

Friend Peter Karl said the wind sounded like a jet plane blowing across their tents.

"It was pretty amazing. The tents were blowing flat to the ground and then popping up again."

Campground co-owner Neville Pickering said it was the worst storm he had seen in 10 years managing the site.

People in about 30 tents had left after the wild night, which had ripped tents, bent poles and ruined at least five gazebos.

Christchurch campers Glen Meachen and Andy McEntee slept in their car and Mr Meachen's wife Leona moved into a cabin when the wind and rain got too much, but in the morning the fine weather had lifted their mood.

Fellow camper Tasha Triplow had to move beds for the night, bunking down in a caravan after the wind flattened her tent, but was also planning to stay.

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The wind had not destroyed her enjoyment of the campsite, where her family had been staying for 15 years, she said. Mr Pickering said about a third of tenters had left on Wednesday and yesterday and Picton Holiday Park owner Tyas Hawkins said there were no tenters at the park last night.

- The Marlborough Express

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