Multiple power outages, road closures as Hawke's Bay and surrounds feel Cyclone Cook's fury

A tree narrowly missed this home's carport and garage in Longlands, Hastings.

A tree narrowly missed this home's carport and garage in Longlands, Hastings.

Thousands of customers have lost power in the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne regions on Thursday evening as Cyclone Cook heads southwards.

Power was out for most of Hastings, Havelock North, Taradale and south Napier, including some street and traffic lights.

Power company Unison reported 36 separate outages in Hawke's Bay by 10.25pm.

Sean Daynard bunkered down in his yacht at Tauranga Bridge Marina earlier on Thursday. The storm has now advanced to the ...

Sean Daynard bunkered down in his yacht at Tauranga Bridge Marina earlier on Thursday. The storm has now advanced to the East Coast and Hawke's Bay.

Pakowhai Rd, a main route between Napier and Hastings, was blocked from the intersection with Brookfields Rd to Whakatu after two trees came down over the road. Police urged motorists to avoid the area, and it was not known when the road will reopen.

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Live: Cyclone Cook, predicted to be the worst storm to hit in 49 years, bears down on NZ

Several roads across Hawke's Bay and the wider East Coast were partially or completely blocked due to the storm.

MetService rain radar from 9.36pm on Thursday shows heavy rain in blue tones bucketing down on much of the central North ...

MetService rain radar from 9.36pm on Thursday shows heavy rain in blue tones bucketing down on much of the central North Island.

"There are too many roads impacted to name them all. Most are affected by trees coming down," a spokesperson said.

Police urged people in these areas to avoid all travel, unless absolutely essential.

"In Bayview, Napier, there is a diversion in place on Main North Road because of a substantial slip."

In Havelock North, Kirill Kruger said the lights were out in much of the town.

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"I've just gone to bed. There's nothing else to do," he said.

The town was experiencing light rain but strong winds, Kruger added.

Brent Stewart, Eastland Group general manager for networks, said linesmen were out working to fix the outages.

"We did have parts of central Gisborne out for a while, but we've got 99 per cent of that back on."

Stewart said "very high winds" and trees falling over were causing most of the problems. Toppled trees had also made some roads impassable, causing delays for repair crews.

Winds were still "very extreme" at 9pm, Stewart said, so the infrastructure company was conscious of possible safety risks to crews.

Eastland Group said power cuts were affecting customers in multiple areas across Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast. 

"During the evening it's likely that other faults will occur," a spokeswoman added.

"We have crews out in these severe conditions doing their best to restore power, but we might not be able to repair some faults until tomorrow or even later in the weekend."

A major outage in Meeanee affected more than 2200 customers but Unison said it had partially restored power to some of those affected by 10.30pm.

Unison said its Hawke's Bay staff were working to restore power where alternative supply was possible.

But conditions were too rough to send crews out, relationship manager Danny Gough said.

"We're starting to feel the effects now of ex-Cyclone Cook as strong winds and heavy rain take a toll on the network, but things could get worse. 

"In weather like this, it is imperative we make sure it is safe for our team to carry out repairs. So we ask for our customers' patience."

Unison said it had extra crews on stand-by to start repairs when it was safe to do so.

But it also advised customers to ensure they were prepared for potentially long periods without power.

"We are also mindful of our customers who are medically dependent on power, so we urge them to make alternative arrangements and liaise with their medical providers for advice," Gough added.

Meanwhile, the Fire Service took multiple calls about trees falling onto houses and into roads as Cyclone Cook's remnants struck Napier and surrounding areas.

A Central Fire Communications spokesman said the service took 50 storm-related calls in Hawke's Bay alone.

Hastings District Council said the most dangerous time for sea swells had passed and there was now no need for beachfront residents to be evacuated.

"There was some concern that swells generated by Cyclone Cook might combine with the high tide at 7.30pm to threaten beachfront homes," spokeswoman Diane Joyce said.

But Hastings emergency management local controller Mike Maguire urged beachfront residents to remain vigilant for the next 24 hours.

 - Stuff

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