Wild storm slams Waikato, Coromandel

Power cuts, fallen trees, flooding

FLORENCE KERR AND SHAUN EADE
Last updated 15:40 11/06/2014
Waikato Times

Wild weather blows through the Fieldays at Mystery Creek, causing damage to tents.

tairua flooding
NICK REED/Fairfax NZ Zoom
DOWNPOUR:: Heavy rain in Tairua left the area flooded this morning.

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Field crews are fixing power outages in Tauranga and the South Waikato. 

High winds have brought trees down across overhead lines on Powerco's electricity network, causing widespread power cuts. Powerco Acting Electricity Operations Manager Phil Marsh said a total of 30,000 customers had lost power overnight and today and supply had been restored to around 15,000 of these properties. 

He said the hardest hit areas were in Coromandel and Thames.

"Most of the damage has been caused by trees falling across lines." 

He said extra resources had been brought into the affected areas to help restore supply as quickly and safety as possible.

 "Our first priority is making the network safe. The high number of damaged lines mean there are still many down and they must be treated as live at all times. 

"Stay away from any downed power lines and call Powerco's emergency number 0800 272727," Marsh said.

Coromandel roading update

  • Trotters Ave Waiomu - Power lines down in berm. Tree blocking one lane.
  • Hikuai Settlement Road - Surface flooding. Road open to one lane. Reports of seal damage
  • Morrison Rd and School Rd Hikuai - Both roads closed with surface flooding. Both roads now open
  • Kennedy Bay Road -  Road open to one lane
  • Port Charles Road.  Bridge 16km (big Sandy Bay) closed, and bridge at 13.8km closed (near Carey Rd). 
  • Purangi Road, road is open
  • Victoria St Thames. 1st Ford is open. 2nd Ford is closed and signs are up.
  • Maratoto Ford is flooded. 
  • 309 Road - open to one lane
  • Kaimarama Road Whitianga - Road open to one lane.
  • Port Jackson/Fletchers Bay Rd intersection - Digger on its way to open road to one lane and continue north towards Fletcher's Bay
  • Colville Road - Rock fall in place, one lane open
  • Lees Road Hahei - Road is clear and open
  • Neavesville Road Thames - road open to one lane.
  • Maramarahi Road Thames - Road closed due to power lines on the ground. Tenix on site
  • Hot Water Beach Rd - Road is open
  • Pumpkin Hill Rd -  Open to one lane. 

NOTHING WILL STOP THIS MAYOR

Nothing was going to stop Thames Coromandel Mayor Glenn Leach from donning his mayoral chain this morning, not even a storm.

Leach woke up to find a ''big tree'' blocking his driveway and he did what any good Waikato resident would do.

''I started up the chainsaw and chopped it up to get out.'' 

Leach said the storm that hit the region over night did not claim any lives and no serious injuries.  

''It's not a major- it's a hell of [an] inconvenience with roofs off, trees down, flooding and so on. But in terms of infrastructure there have been no major slips, no bridges and roads being washed away.''

Roads between Matarangi and Whitianga are down to one lane due to fallen trees, roads into Thames have been cut off because of flooding across the state highway south of the town, and SH25 at Manaia and Hikuaia is also closed until further notice.

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Power will be out across much of the northern Coromandel until about lunchtime.

Leach said council staff had been up since 5.30am clearing fallen trees. 

Metservice Meteorologist John Law described the storm as "intense'' with gusts in the Coromandel reaching upto 146km.

''Whitianga got the worse of the rain with 120mm falling in the space of 36 hours.''

 Law said Coromandel had a rainfall of 80-100mm.

''The worst of the rain has gone. Waikato can expect a few showers throughout the day as it begins to clear. The Kaimai Ranges can expect heavy rain.'' 

Around the Waikato region residents fared a bit better than their counterparts in the Coromandel. 

In Matamata a jolly trampoline, a few fences and a letterbox were the only casualties to be taken down by the storm.

 Cambridge emergency services were kept busy attending five call outs in about eight hours due to the wild weather.

Four trees fell, including one which broke a concrete power pole, and signs were reportedly damaged at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

The Whangamata Volunteer Fire Brigade have been non-stop since 2am with property damage related incidents. 

The team of 12 men have been called out to seven incidents with no injuries to residents.

Currently half of Whangamata are out of power and the 12 man crew are still dealing with the after-effects of the storm.

Hamilton Police City Shift Manager, Sergeant Dave Raffan, said emergency services and roading contractors have had a busy night with slips around the Waikato.'

'Advice from Police at this time is to avoid travelling unless you absolutely have to.'' 

FRANKLIN NOT SPARED

Franklin was not spared as wild weather hit New Zealand on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning leaving about 2500 Franklin homes without electricity.

Flooding, power outages and fallen trees were reported across the area as heavy rain and winds up to 83kmh hit.

The Awhitu Volunteer Rural Fire Force was called to a Kauri Rd property on this morning where the high winds blew a shed onto a cow.

''It was a yearling calf that had been standing behind the shed and shed has fallen on top of it and flattened it on the ground,'' Awhitu volunteer firefighter Grant Andrews said.

''It was lying flat when we found it so we were able to push the shed off, lift it up and the [calf was fine].''

Andrews spent Wednesday morning clearing trees from driveways across the heavily hit Awhitu Peninsula.

The Waiuku volunteer firefighters attended three other callouts: power wires down on Awhitu Rd, a fallen tree on Grahams Beach Rd and another fallen tree on Cemetery Rd.

A Pukekohe woman required the help of the Pukekohe Police and Pukekohe Volunteer Firefighters after she drove her car into a flooded section of Subway Rd around 5.20am on Wednesday morning.

The woman was trapped in her car until the firefighters towed her out.

A fallen tree on Paparata Rd, Bombay and tree branches on Cape Hill Rd, Pukekohe were cleared by the Pukekohe firefighters.

Counties Power customer relations manager Moira Moroney said 10 fault staff worked throughout the night to restore power to separate faults in Glen Murray, Tuakau and Awhitu which affected about 2500 houses.

Most homes had their power restored by 9am yesterday morning but at the time of print, 115 homes in Manukau Heads and 20 properties with damage to their private service lines were still without power.

Moroney said some of the damage caused by the storm could have been prevented.

''Damage from trees was a problem in some areas,'' she said. ''Land-owners need to keep trees trimmed and well clear of power lines for their own sake and that of their neighbours.''

Tuakau Volunteer Firefighters also responded to a power transformer that was on fire on Harrisville Rd.

- Waikato Times

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