Power supplier Unison Networks was this afternoon making steady progress towards restoring services to more of the 15,000 customers who awoke earlier in the day to find themselves still without electricity after the overnight storm.

Company relationship manager Danny Gough said just before noon about 10,000 remained without supply, which was hit over a wide area by failing trees and flying debris as Cyclone Cook took an unexpected diversion towards the twin cities of Napier Hastings.

Mr Gough said at least 50 staff were working on repairs today, including crews brought in from Taupo and Rotorua. "That's the irony," he said. "They were the areas that we were expecting to get hit."

Among those in action was company CEO Ken Sutherland, who was at one scene in Havelock North warning children to keep away from fallen lines.
Mr Gough said helicopters were being used in an aerial assessment today.

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""The damage is widespread, but at this stage we are aiming to get most customers in urban areas back on by the end of the day."

Some should make preparations for being without power for "the next day or two", in what is the most widespread operations affecting Unison customers since snow brought-down poles and lines between Taupo and Napier early last August.

"This is a massive restoration effort and we are focused on repairing and restoring where we can make the biggest impact with the most number of customers," he said

Due to the large number of calls through Unison's call centre, customers were being asked to check for known outages on its website: http://www.unison.co.nz/outages, and follow its Facebook page and Civil Defence's advice.