Storm wipes out power

By Peter de Graaf

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Almost 7000 homes were left without power after a shed blew into a high-voltage line.
Almost 7000 homes were left without power after a shed blew into a high-voltage line.

The storm that hammered Northland last week picked up an entire shed and blew it into high-voltage lines, demolishing two power poles and leaving almost 7000 households in the dark.

The incident occurred at Kaihu, north of Dargaville, at the height of the storm about 11pm on Wednesday. Elsewhere, a carport was flattened and a house damaged in Kaitaia when a tree toppled onto a neighbour's property, and across the region more than 8000 homes lost power overnight.

The strongest wind gusts, just under 150km/h, were recorded at Cape Reinga on Wednesday evening.

Kaitaia Fire Brigade had three storm-related callouts between 10pm and 11.30pm, first to Fairburn Rd to help locals clear a tree blocking the road, then to Pamapuria to clear debris from State Highway 1, and finally to Pukepoto Rd where a large tree had crushed a carport and landed on a neighbour's house.

Deputy fire chief Craig Rogers said there was little the firefighters could do about the tree while the storm was still raging.

Around the same time, 10.50pm, State Highway 1 was blocked at Pakaraka by fallen trees. The Kaikohe Fire Brigade cleared one lane, then handed the rest of the clean-up over to contractors.

Bill Hutchinson, of Far North Civil Defence, said the Fire Service responded to 13 storm-related callouts overnight. It appeared Northland had dodged the worst of the storm as it travelled down the west coast. Across the Far North 6000 households were left without power, especially in Kaikohe, Moerewa, Kawakawa and rural Kaitaia.

The main cause was trees bringing down power lines.

By 11am on Thursday the number of homes still without power was down to 45 in Coopers Beach, 63 in North Hokianga and 11 at Mangamuka Bridge.

Top Energy spokeswoman Philippa White said about 30 staff worked through the night to restore the network and a helicopter was used to search for damage.

Meanwhile, Northpower had to repair four high-voltage lines and more than 20 low-voltage lines across the Whangarei and Kaipara districts.

The biggest outage was at Moirs Point, Mangawhai Heads, about 2am on Thursday when 1219 households were initially without power. Power was fully restored by daybreak. The other major outage, to 669 households, was caused by the flying shed at Kaihu and discovered by volunteers of the Dargaville Fire Brigade.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said the storm's strongest recorded gust was 146km/h at Cape Reinga around 9pm on Wednesday, with the wind peaking at 80km/h in Whangarei and Kerikeri. In the 24 hours to 11am on Thursday, Kaikohe received 84mm of rain, Kerikeri 39mm, Whangarei 26mm and Cape Reinga 11mm.

- Northern Advocate

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