More rain and wind coming for storm-damaged areas

By Paul Harper

Power lines brought down by the strong winds over the weekend may take weeks to repair. Photo / supplied
Power lines brought down by the strong winds over the weekend may take weeks to repair. Photo / supplied

A looming front will bring another dose of rain and wind to storm-damaged areas of the lower North Island, forecasters warn.

About 2000 properties in South Taranaki and Wanganui remain without power following Saturday's extreme winds.

Weatherwatch.co.nz forecaster Philip Duncan said another front moving toward New Zealand would ensure there was no respite for the communities.

It would bring east to south east winds to Wanganui, Patea and Taranaki, building on Wednesday and becoming brisk by Thursday, he said.

"Heavy rain may also push back into the Gisborne region - and may cause more problems for contractors trying to clear a giant slip in the Waioeke Gorge."

Powerco general manager Andrew McLeod said Patea should have power returned by the end of the day, but some remote areas may have to wait until next week to get electricity.

It will take at least a week for damage to the network in remote parts of Patea, Waverley and the Waitotara Valley to be repaired.

"Spans of lines across large valleys and rivers have been brought down in the storm," Mr McLeod said. "Overgrown trees have fallen in their path and have to be cleared before sections of the network can be rebuilt.

"We're looking at what possible options there are for generators but people should be prepared for extended periods without supply."

Mr Mcleod said the storm damage to the network was the worst Powerco had experienced, with more than 600 overhead lines brought down and 30,000 customers originally without power.

Federated Farmers Taranaki Dairy chairperson Derek Gibson said liaising between council and farmers has ensured generators are going where they are needed.

"There appears to be more generators than there certainly was a few days ago," he said. "Things are progressing, even though slowly.

"I guess farmers' immediate needs is getting that power on, getting our infrastructure back up and going. Some people are getting that infrastructure back and some people are moving towards it."

Mr Gibson said it was important power was restored so herds could be milked and production would not be lost.

"Their production drops off, as the action of taking the milk away from the cows causes it to want to make more. The less you take away, the less it will want to produce in the future.

"I'm not aware that there are any herds that haven't been milked at this stage. The ones we are communicating with are milking with generators, even if only once a day."

While the worst damage is the South Taranaki region, Wanganui also got hit hard.

Tony Rogers, Wanganui Federated Farmers dairy section chairman, has a dry stock farm near Wanganui.

"There were a lot of trees down, a lot of damage, fences crushed, sheds destroyed. I'm not aware of any house roofs missing.

"A few dairy farmers had to miss a milking or two. There was no milk dumping, Fonterra got through to them all, as far as I'm aware."

Fortunately New Zealand's damp summer ensured farmers were better prepared to deal with the fallout from the weekend's wild weather.

"The animals are in good condition and there is plenty of feed available for animals. And the conditions are warm which is good," Mr Gibson said.

"As soon as you think everything is going along really nicely something like this comes along to put a check on it, but hey, everyone accepts that and gets on with it. That's the philosophy."

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