Storm rips through Bay of Plenty

By Michele Hunter

Blackouts, a snapped railway crossing barrier arm and trees crashing down on a car were just some of the destruction left by a storm that ripped through the Western Bay on Friday night.
Ohauiti Rd resident Tim Short also had a poplar tree in his backyard snap off at its base and come down on his house at about 9.30pm last night.
As the tree fell the lower part of the tree smashed part of the end of the house also crashing down on top of the family's Pontiac Lamont which was parked near the house but was now a write-off.
"The whole house absolutely shook. It never occurred to me that it would be a tree falling onto the house," Mr Short said.
Mr Short said the tree was in front of a retaining wall, which was acting as support, and he believed a mini tornado must have swept through the area.
Mr Short, an Environment Bay of Plenty council candidate, said his wife Debbie had been unable to get home because trees were also blocking their road.
The barrier arm at Te Maunga railcrossing was also snapped in half by the storm.
Another Mount Maunganui resident told the Bay of Plenty Times that she had a scary experience when she had to suddenly swerve to miss hitting trees blocking part of Hewletts Rd.
"The whole car shook. It was really scary," the woman said.
The lights went out in some Western Bay areas when the storm hit at about 7pm yesterday, bringing trees down on to powerlines.
Lightning strikes throughout the night damaged transformers causing more outages and Powerco also had three overhead lines hit by trampolines.
About 8000 customers would have lost power at some stage throughout the night.
Powerco's network operation manager Phil Marsh said power was still out this morning for 1500 customers, most of them in Te Puke, Paengaroa, Rangiuru and Te Matai.

Katikati, Athenree and Bowentown also lost power ovenight and isolated properties in town would have lost power as the result of falling trees or branches.
Mr Marsh said it had been the most significant outage this year and the biggest since July 2007 with 32,000 of Powerco's customers losing power.
Tauranga Fire Services senior station officer Phil Price said fire crews in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui were kept extremely busy around the city attending dozens of calls.
Most calls were to deal with trees blocking roads.
Te Puke fire chief Mark Norris said Te Puke was relatively lucky only having to attend three calls out last night, including a tree falling against a house and power lines arcing.
This morning in Te Puke East Rd a cow shed roof was blown off.
Met Service forecaster Paul Mallinson said part of one of the two active frontal bands forecast to cross the North Island moved through Tauranga at about 8pm last night bringing gusts of at least 65 knots and winds bursts could been as much as 120 knots in some areas as it went across.
The storm also brought severe rain in a brief bursts which was typical of want was expected, he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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