Candles out after storm cuts power

23:57, Mar 16 2014
Mike Dunlay
MAKING DO: Mike Dunlay pours a beer in his candle-lit Porthole Bar after the power went out in parts of Lyttelton.

Businesses were forced to shut their doors and stock was ruined as Lyttelton spent a day without power.

Banks Peninsula suffered the worst of the ex-tropical cyclone Lusi yesterday while residents of the low-lying Flockton Basin in Mairehau breathed a sigh of relief after the forecast torrential rain never came.

Orion crews across the city battled against several cable and lines faults caused by storm damage.

Power to many parts of Banks Peninsula was cut about 6.30am and other areas, including Opawa, Richmond and Riccarton, experienced outages also.

More than 7000 customers were initially affected and about 1700 remained without power yesterday evening.

Investigators were unable to locate the fault on the Heathcote network, leaving some hill suburbs and the port township of Lyttelton without power for more than 12 hours.


Bars and restaurants on Lyttelton's main street, London St, were forced to close and many residents had a cold day at home without electric heating.

Restaurant owner Nick Freeman, of Freemans Dining Room, had to "bite the bullet" and send his chefs and waiting staff home after a day without power.

The busy restaurant usually opened at 10am on Sundays, he said, so it was a day of trading lost.

"Our fridges are down, obviously, and the stock is really starting to deteriorate," he said.

Porthole Bar owner Mike Dunlay said his home and business had been without power all day and he would be unable to trade as usual.

"The till won't work, the fridges are down, there would be no music . . . but I still want to open and put some candles out, grab some hand-pulled beer and a cash bar."

Orion spokesman Stephen Godfrey said the storm-related damage had kept crews busy all day.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said emergency services had not reported any major issues as a result of yesterday's rainfall.

About 40mm of rain fell in the city, with more than twice that along the Kaikoura coast.

Mairehau resident Rita Nicol said there had been some surface flooding and blocked drains in the Flockton Basin area but "nothing like the flooding" earlier this month.

However, Nicol was not ready to remove the sandbags from outside her front door.

Agencies were far better prepared this time round but for some, it was "too little, too late", she said.

"Some people have already gone and everyone feels on edge when it rains now."

Fire Service spokesman Riwai Grace said crews in Christchurch had been dealing with a "usual Sunday".

However, the Diamond Harbour volunteer brigade responded to more than 15 storm-related callouts.

Chief fire officer Don Cameron said the area seemed to be "the eye of the storm" with strong winds and rain causing damage to trees and properties.

The road to Purau Bay was blocked because of fallen pine trees and officers had been called out to homes to secure loose roof tiles. About four properties had been damaged by falling trees.

Marlborough and South Canterbury were likely to bear the brunt of Lusi's remains, with the MetService forecasting more rain and gales overnight.

The Press