Trees annihilated at Ward

1000 trees uprooted in one plantation

Last updated 14:32 22/06/2013

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People in rural areas of Marlborough are busy cleaning up damaged properties after fierce winds battered coastal areas on Thursday, flattening thousands of trees and wreaking havoc on farms.

Ward resident Eric Bayly arrived home last night to find two macrocarpa trees, about 12 metres high and 4m in circumference, had crushed the outhouse and tool shed and punctured the roof above the kitchen and his son’s bedroom.

‘‘The whole house got quite a big knock,’’ he said. 

None of the eight people who lived in the house were injured.

The family had no power after the supply line running through the property was taken out by the fallen trees. 

The family plans to stay in the house and Mr Bayly, a builder, will take a few days off work to fix the damage, starting with his son’s bedroom.

The Ward area was littered with fallen trees after the violent winds on Thursday night.

Climatologist Stu Powell said he recorded some ‘‘phenomenal’’ winds, with gusts reaching 225kmh on London Hill near Ward and 110kmh near Seddon.

A tree plantation behind Flaxbourne Tearooms Cafe on SH1 was ripped apart after the winds tore through about 1000 pine trees.

Less than 20 were left standing. 

Plantation owner Dennis Burkhart said the trees had been planted about 18 years ago and would be ready to harvest in about five years time.

‘‘They were just getting good, just starting to get to a millable size,’’ he said.

The 4.5ha area was almost flattened within a few hours.

‘‘She was big,’’ he said.

‘‘We had huge big wind gusts and the trees were all down by 10.30pm. It just went ballistic.’’ 

He had begun clearing the trees today, but had yet to decide what to do with them. The last resort was using them for firewood, he said.

Taimate farmer John Hickman said he had never seen wind as strong or violent.

‘‘It was like a 747 taking off, but consistent,’’ he said.

‘‘It was going all night, just so consistently and violently.’’

He went out a few times during the night, but the full extent of the damage was not visible until this morning.

Trees had fallen down all over his farm, with an entire 300 metre treeline  flattened by the wind, he said. 

Some tree lines that fell had been there for 40 to 50 years. Old man pine trees 80 to 100 years old had fallen, while a huge pine more than 100 years old tipped over.

‘‘We’ll have a fair bit of fire wood for the next few years,’’ he said.

‘‘It was just unbelievable – the strength and consistency of the wind.’’

A vineyard shed blew away, while another shed had lost two sides. Two other sheds had lost parts of their roofs, and even the cattle yards had been damaged. The weight in the timber on top of the posts, causing them to topple over, he said.

‘‘It was just so wet and windy. It was just like a post standing in porridge.’’

His cousin, farmer Kieran Hickman, lived further along the road and also had damage to his farm. 

A row of 100-year-old macrocarpa trees had been pummeled by the wind, leaving about five standing. 

A pump shed containing the meter reader had been ripped out of the ground and the electricity had been out since last night. They were hoping an electrician would arrive later today.

Kaka Rd farm worker Sam Kersten was gutted a fence he finished two months ago had been torn down by a fallen macrocarpa gum tree.

The wind had blasted through a row of trees, felling them on yards beside the wool shed full of newly shorn sheep. They had been moved into the shed because of the southerly storm forecast. 

‘‘We’re lucky we moved them, or they’d all be dead,’’ Mr Kersten said.

Power was cut to most of the Ward area last night and was being restored today.

Marlborough Lines managing director Ken Forrest said the main storm damage to the network had been caused by fallen trees.

The threat of more trees falling had made it too dangerous for his linemen to start repairing the damage earlier, he said.

Two helicopters had been in the air since this morning to locate the faults.

About 150 customers still had no power about 1pm today.

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- The Marlborough Express


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