Chilly Wellington households still off the grid

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 10:58 24/06/2013
Power cut
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

DARK DAYS IN HATAITAI: Rouble Kapoor (left), Dheeraj Kapoor and Vibhor Gandhi have been left without power in their Hamilton Road flat since Thursday.

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Six hundred Wellington homes remain without power this morning and some could face a further week in the dark.

After a ferocious storm on Thursday night, 30,000 Wellington Electricity customers suffered power outages.

That was reduced to about 600 last night.

Wellington Electricity said most suburbs had customers who were affected this morning.

Repair crews had now gone to some of the hardest-hit areas and found damage was ''far worse'' than originally thought, Wellington Electricity said in a statement.

''Unfortunately, many of the repairs that are needed are extensive and take a tremendous amount of technical work to repair small numbers of customers at a time. All indications are that restoration for this scale of damage we are encountering could take a further week of repairs.''

Wellington Electricity had crews working since the storm and had brought 120 reinforcement crew.

From today crews would be working in worst-affected areas of Khandallah, Eastbourne, Belmont, Johnsonville, Tawa, Porirua and Titahi Bay.

SCHOOLS OUT IN TITAHI BAY

Titahi Bay North School is closed again today after Thursday night's storm knocked out its power.

Principal Steven Cauldwell said without heating, school bells and for health and safety reasons it was decided last night to close the school again today.

Most parents were notified, although a few pupils showed up this morning and were sent home again.

It was hoped the school would open again tomorrow. 

LOSING PATIENCE

Dheeraj Kapoor is losing patience after four cold nights without power.

The Hataitai resident, who lives with his wife and brother in an upstairs flat in Hamilton Rd, said the power had been off since Thursday after their powerlines began to spark.

Yesterday the family had a hot shower at a colleague's house, but with their only heat source being an electric heater, it had been a freezing few days.

They also lost a fridge and freezer full of food during the power outage.

Although they remained without power, the flat below them was unaffected and every other house on their street had electricity.

Despite repeated calls to Wellington Electricity they have been given no time frame for when power would be restored.

During one call, Kapoor was told he could request a refund from his electricity supplier as compensation.

"I haven't asked for anything; I just want my power back.

"I know they're busy but we're really suffering.

"I heard they've finished with the big problems and still we haven't heard anything."

Ohiro Rd resident Toby Bishop has also been powerless since Thursday night.

Food had gone to waste in his fridge, and he has paid for a night in a hotel and crashed on friends' couches while waiting for the fault to be fixed.

Although about 600 houses were still without power, lines crews from across the country were out in force repairing the storm damage.

Northpower employee Steve Hooper and his crew were called from Northland on Thursday night and immediately began working 12-hour days.

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Dealing with fallen lines and replacing smashed power poles had been tiring work, he said.

Hooper said he was surprised so many trees were allowed near the powerlines. In Northland, potentially dangerous branches were chopped away.

Wellington Electricity said significant progress was made during the weekend in Thorndon, Lyall Bay, Newlands, Miramar, Seatoun and surrounding suburbs.

Today the focus would shift to Khandallah, Eastbourne, Belmont, Johnsonville, Tawa, Porirua and Titahi Bay.

However, some customers in the most remote areas could remain without power until later this week.

Customers were asked to continue reporting any outages to Wellington Electricity, and if assistance was required, to contact friends, neighbours or the local council.

- The Dominion Post

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