Weather bomb nails South Taranaki
Claims weather bomb worse than BolaBLANTON SMITH AND LAIRD HARPER
LATEST: Thousands of homes are still without power in the wake of yesterday morning's weather bomb.
Powerco said damage to the electricity network was severe and some sections needed to be completely rebuilt.
About 600 overhead lines were brought down and a large number of poles damaged in South Taranaki and Whanganui, general manager Andrew McLeod said.
"We've managed to restore supply to more than 50 per cent of our customers and we hope to have 80 per cent back on by the end of the day," Mr McLeod said.
About 5,500 customers are still without power and it could take up to five days to fully restore supply to some customers where access is difficult or damage is extensive, he said.
Trees were ripped from their roots, powerlines dropped in the wind, trampolines sent flying, roofs removed from houses, windows smashed, farm buildings destroyed and families evacuated from their homes as the storm blew through the region yesterday.
Much of the carnage was centred around Patea where about 50 houses had lost roofs, Taranaki Civil Defence spokesman Craig Stevenson said.
Another 20 roofs were taken in Waverley and 10 were lost in Hawera, he said.
Last night a welfare centre was set up at the Patea Old Folks Hall to provide accommodation and information for residents who had been evacuated from their homes.
The welfare centre will be open until 7pm tonight as the clean up begins in Patea.
Residents will be able to visit the Patea and Waverley libraries for information on Monday, South Taranaki District Council communication manager Gerard Langford said.
Patea community board member David Honeyfield said the storm was 50 times worse than Cyclone Bola when it hit Patea.
Edith Cheetham, who was evacuated from her Patea home, said the weather bomb felt like a twister when it ripped off a large portion of her roof.
Mrs Cheetham said she was watching the trees sway and thought it was neat.
"Then the power went off and boom then the roof went down," she said.
Taranaki Daily News reporter Laird Harper, who spent the day in Patea, said it looked like an earthquake had hit the town.
Resident Janice Murray said her home's conservatory was smashed to bits by the weather bomb.
Mrs Murray said she thought the storm would pass without any damage, then bang, crash, smash, she said.
"I heard the glass flying around."
"I don't know what to say."
In Hawera Horses had to be evacuated when gale force winds ripped the back door off a large shed where as many as 90 show jumping horses were stabled at the Egmont A & P showgrounds.
Close to 400 horses are in Hawera for the National Showjumping series finals which started on Friday.
The wind was strong enough to flatten most of the hurdles in the competition arena with pieces being blown out of the show grounds property.
Organisers cancelled the second day of the three-day competition until today when the first test of Trans Tasman series between New Zealand and Australia has been re-scheduled.
Hawera Placemakers also took a hammering with one side of the building peeling away from its framing.
The Waverley town hall was a mess and the bank had been damaged, Leeanne Morrison told the Taranaki Daily News.
Several roads throughout South Taranaki and much of State Highway Three between Waverly and Patea was closed for the morning yesterday.
"It's full on, there's trees down on the road and there's been collisions with vehicles hitting trees," Inspector Paul Jermy said yesterday.
"There's debris, powerlines and roofing iron blowing down the road."
Police, firefighters and roading contractors have been working tirelessly since the wee hours of the morning to clear debris from the roads, Mr Jermy said.
The storm also caused problems for farmers in South Taranaki with fallen trees stopping some pickups, Federated Farmers Taranaki Dairy chairperson Derek Gibson said.
Some farmers would have to dump milk in to nutrient ponds, but the biggest problem would be the drying up of water.
"For some farms electricity could be out for the next day or so and that means affected farms will not be able to reticulate water for stock to drink," Mr Gibson said.
"The Hawera Volunteer Fire Brigade has kindly offered to transport stock water to those farms without electricity. Hawera's chief fire officer, Darryl Fowler can be contacted on 0272 919 673."
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