A wild wind at Whangape

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Mane Mathews wasn't hanging around when what he described as a tornado struck his aunt's house at Whangape early on Tuesday afternoon. He phoned 111 then ran off down the hill to the road, where he felt a little safer as the wind smashed through a macrocarpa tree and peeled half the iron roof off the house "like a sardine can".

It took about an hour for help to arrive in the form of crews from the Ahipara and Kaitaia fire brigades, with Mr Mathews saying only light rain had fallen in that time, and the exposed ceilings did not appear to have suffered significant damage.

The firefighters covered the damaged area with tarpaulins, placing RSJs as weights over them to hold them down as squalls continued to buffet the house.

Meanwhile, the storm created significant problems for Top Energy, with network general manager David Worsfold saying the lines had been hit by the trifecta of strong winds, rain and lightning.

"They were the key contributors," he said, adding that a major outage occurred in the South Hokianga, the majority of the problems arising there and from Taipa north.

Power was restored at Pukenui by late Tuesday afternoon, but another front that came through that night led to a further outage. The supply was restored in stages, and sufficient crews were available to allow them to be rotated.

"We had plenty of resources to do what needed to be done," Mr Worsfold said.

"We had some people staying in motels in Kaitaia overnight, and stopped working on Tuesday night when it became too dark and dangerous to continue.

"We've still got some faults this morning (yesterday) but they're out there again.

"We've got the situation under control, and we've got good weather to do the work in."

The storm also posed problems for Far North District Council. Communications manager Richard Edmondson said the wild winds, a big swell and floating debris forced Transfield to suspend sailings of the Hokianga ferry from around late on Tuesday morning.

Normal service resumed yesterday morning, with Mr Edmondson saying he understood that this was the first time in eight years that the ferry had had to sit out adverse weather.

Paparore Road, north of Awanui, was closed by fallen trees mid-afternoon on Tuesday, and was re-opened yesterday morning. The wind also bowled a large tree adjacent to Kaitaia's skatebowl, council contractors taking to it with chainsaws and a chipping machine yesterday morning.

The storm did not deliver a great deal of rain in Kaitaia, however.

The Northland Age recorded 8.5mm in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, after 8.9mm in the preceding 24 hours.

- Northland Age

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