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Cyclone Lusi: Power outages affects over 2000

By Rebecca Quilliam, The Herald Online

Strong winds drop power lines and a tree as storm begins trek down country.

The Storm Surge coming over the banks and onto the roads in the Bay of Islands. Photo / Rita & Geoff Baker
The Storm Surge coming over the banks and onto the roads in the Bay of Islands. Photo / Rita & Geoff Baker

Conditions across Auckland are deteriorating as Cyclone Lusi continues to track south west of the North Island, according to Civil Defence.

Localised power outages are occurring across the region with 2367 customers affected, Vector is restoring these services.

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Stormwater blockages from debris and persistent rainfall are causing isolated surface flooding around the region. No significant flooding issues have been identified. However, reports of a rockfall blocking the Hibiscus Coast Highway at Waiwera have been received.

You can track Cyclone Lusi in real time here.

The worst of ex Tropical Cyclone Lusi is yet to hit as emergency services report a quiet night at the top of the North Island overnight.

However, more than 2000 people in rural areas north and south of Auckland have had their power cut from vegetation on lines, electricity company Vector said.

View a gallery of reader images of Cyclone Lusi:

The company said it would work hard to restore power as quickly as possible.

"The safety of the public and Vector's contracting field staff is of primary importance.''

People using medical equipment that relied on electricity should always ensure they were prepared for power disruptions and if there was an immediate health threat, contact their health provider or call 111, Vector said.

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The Auckland Emergency Coordination Centre said rain was affecting the region with 20mm having falling in northern areas and less elsewhere.

"As expected, winds are building across the region this morning with gusts exceeding 120km/r recorded at Channel Island and 113km/r on Whangaparaoa Peninsula.''

Winds were expected to build throughout today and peak this afternoon.

High tide on the east coast was expected at 7.29am and 7.56pm today.

Sea swells should build during the day and coastal erosion might be expected on northeastern beaches around high tide tonight.

Emergency services said they were called to just a few jobs overnight as a result of high winds hitting the area.

A number of trees came down on State Highway 14 between Whangarei and Dargaville, which have now been cleared, police said.

We'll keep you across Lusi as it hits - but we need your help. Send your Lusi-related stories, photos or video here.

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Debris is covering a number of roads and police were urging drivers in the north, to drive with care and to the conditions.

The fire service was also called to a felled tree on the Hibiscus Coast, about 5.30am, northern fire communications shift manager Nicole Bernard said.

Lusi was expected to travel south today, bringing with it possible localised flooding, slips, road closures and power cuts, as it tracked southwest just off the coast of the country, before hitting the South Island on Sunday.

Severe weather warnings have been issued for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Nelson and Marlborough.

Northland could expect 80mm-100mm of rain by this afternoon, MetService said.

The rain should spread quickly southwards, totalling more than 100mm in Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne by Sunday morning.

Easterly gales will accompany the heavy rain, with gusts of 120km/h in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula, and 130km/h west of the Kaimai Range.

An extra 26 firefighters and five fire engines were yesterday sent to Kerikeri as an emergency back-up to support local crews in the north in advance of the storm hitting.

Housing New Zealand also said it would make extra staff available over the weekend, with maintenance contractors ready to deal with any urgent repairs.

However, residents in at-risk coastal areas have been told it's a case of "neighbour helping neighbour'' to ensure safety. A number of Auckland's eastern and north-east beaches have been warned of potential erosion and damage to beachfront properties from high sea swells, particularly around high tide.

Boaties have been advised to secure their boats ahead of the encroaching storm, and avoid going out to sea over the weekend.

Motorists have also been advised to take extra care on the roads, or stay indoors. A number of Auckland ferry services have been cancelled.

Elsewhere, electricity companies have warned customers to be prepared for the possibility of outages as a result of the wild weather.

The brunt of Cyclone Lusi's force is expected to strike the North Island throughout today, before gradually weakening as it moves into the South Island tomorrow.

The storm should be clear of New Zealand by Monday, with only a few showers and brisk winds remaining in the south and east.

Canterbury was bracing itself for more flooding, with the Christchurch City Council saying it is preparing for the worst case scenario following recent damaging floods in the area.

Around 22,000 sandbags will be filled and ready for collection in various locations across the city by noon today, with all emergency response teams on stand-by.

Meanwhile, farmers are welcoming the expected onslaught of rain for their parched land, particularly the west coast of the North Island, Waikato, Auckland and Hauraki Coromandel.

"I know there'll be a fair number of farmers in Waikato and Northland who'll dance a jig at the first drops of rain,'' said Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman.

"Some on the North Island's west coast haven't seen decent rain since last November.''

However, she warned farmers to be prepared for the storm conditions in advance.

In Auckland preparations are continuing for today's expected stormy weather.

Auckland harbourmaster Andrew Hayton said all staff would be on call over the weekend.

Boaties should check the moorings of their boats before the worst of the weather comes in, he said.

"We don't want people going out in a small dinghy at the height of the storm to check on their boats.''

Organisers of the PolyFest confirmed that the co-ordinators for the Maori stage have moved today's performances to The Trusts Stadium in Henderson, West Auckland.

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Outages:
* Warkworth affecting 836;
* Wellsford affecting 269;
* Kaipara Flats affecting 56; and
* Clevedon affecting 990.

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Events which could be affected:
* Hurricanes vs Cheetahs, Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Saturday
* Vodafone Warriors v St. George Illawarra Dragons at Eden Park, Saturday
* Te Houtaewa challenge, 90 Mile Beach, Saturday
* Bayswater Auto Show and Family Fun Day, Bayswater School, Sunday
* Harbourview Sculpture trail, Te Atatu Peninsula, open until March 30
* Final series in the Swim Rotorua Open Water Swim, Lake Okataina, Sunday
* Rotorua Walking Festival, Saturday and Sunday
* Tarawera Ultramarathon, Saturday
* Rotorua's Pasifika Family Fun Day event
* Womad music festival, Taranaki, Friday - Sunday
* Wairarapa Balloon Fiesta, Thursday - Sunday
* Wairarapa Wine Festival on Saturday

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Before a storm:

* Develop a household emergency plan. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival items, as well as a portable getaway kit.
* Prepare your property by securing large heavy objects and any item which could become a deadly or damaging missile.
* Keep materials at hand for repairing windows, such as tarpaulins, boards and duct tape.
When a warning is issued and during a storm:
* Stay informed on weather updates. Listen to your local radio stations for advice for your community and situation.
* Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit.
* Secure, or move indoors, all items that could get blown about in strong winds.
* Close windows, external and internal doors. Pull curtains and drapes over unprotected glass areas.
* If the wind becomes destructive, stay away from doors and windows and shelter inside the house.
* Water supplies can be affected so store drinking water in containers and fill bathtubs and sinks.
* Power cuts are possible in severe weather. Unplug small appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges, and if power is lost, unplug major appliances.
* Bring pets inside. Move stock to shelter. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you.
After a storm:
* Listen to your local radio stations for the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
* Check for injuries and help others if you can, especially people who require special assistance.
* Look for and report broken utility lines.
* Contact your local council if your house has been severely damaged.
* If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs and contact your insurance company.
Detailed advice is at www.getthru.govt.nz.
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Storm advice:

* Stay clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment and treat them as live at all times
* Ensure garden furniture and umbrellas are put away or tied down
* Ensure trampolines are tied down
* Watch out for falling tree branches which can damage power lines
* Avoid possible damage to electrical appliances (in the unlikely event there is a power surge when the power is restored) by switching off appliances at the wall
* Keep a torch and spare batteries handy and ensure you have at least one telephone that does not rely on electricity for operation
*Ensure an alternate fuel supply is available for cooking (eg gas for barbecue)
Source: Vector

- APNZ

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