Power cuts as storm hits Bay

By John Cousins

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A brave swimmer treads a lonely path at Mount Main Beach on Saturday. Photo/Andrew Warner
A brave swimmer treads a lonely path at Mount Main Beach on Saturday. Photo/Andrew Warner

Widespread power cuts and trees falling across roads kept Western Bay emergency services busy on Saturday despite Cyclone Lusi not delivering her full force.

Electricity lines company Powerco said 1400 householders lost power amid winds that peaked at 80km/h.

Affected areas included Omanu, Matapihi, Welcome Bay, Oropi, Te Puna, Omanawa, Omokoroa, Katikati, Te Puke and Waihi.

Wind and rainfall were less severe than forecast, with the 84mm of rain that fell in Tauranga nearly a third less than expected. By the time Lusi reached the Bay of Plenty it had been downgraded to a deep depression.

The only report of damage to a house happened on Saturday morning, when wind peeled sheets of exterior Fibrolite wallboard off a hillside farmhouse near Waihi.

Waihi fire brigade chief fire officer Moe Stevens said wind got behind the cladding of the Samson Rd house, leaving them with the job of securing the wall because of the danger from panels flying around in the wind.

The Tauranga City council reported minor stormwater flooding and downed trees but no significant damage.

Only one unsecured trampoline went flying on to the roof of a neighbouring house at Crichton Terrace, Mount Maunganui. Residents were hanging on to the trampoline when the Mount fire service arrived.

Powerco acting network operations manager Dean Stevenson said repair crews worked in blustery conditions to restore power by early yesterday morning. However, not all the power cuts were caused by the wind. A car hitting a power pole in Concord Ave just before midnight on Saturday cut power to Omanu.

There was a further half-hour power cut in Oropi yesterday, when a tree was blown on to overhead powerlines at 2.30pm.

State Highway 2 through the Karangahake Gorge was reduced to one lane for over 30 minutes on Saturday, after a tree fell across the road. Waihi volunteer firefighters used chainsaws to remove the tree.

A few minutes after 2pm, Athenree firefighters were called to nail sheets of corrugated iron flapping in the wind on a shed.

Other emergency services personnel said the dry weather that preceded the storm had helped minimise the damage. Damage would have been a lot worse if the ground had been saturated.

Boucher Ave at Te Puke was reduced to one lane just after 1pm on Saturday when a big tree at Malyon Rest Home was blown down. Greerton firefighters were called to clear a 16th Ave driveway of a fallen tree at 11am yesterday.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco said it was still too early to say how much damage had been caused by wind rub to kiwifruit crops.

Light damage was reported to several caravan awnings at the Papamoa Beach Top 10 holiday park, but otherwise campers coped well with the storm at the city's main motor camps.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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