Rains finally ease for North Island

By Sophie Ryan, APNZ staff

The crushed caravan in Matarangi. Photo / Richie Barnett
The crushed caravan in Matarangi. Photo / Richie Barnett

The heavy rain is easing for most of the North Island and will move off tonight.

MetService meteorologist John Law said the Western Bay of Plenty and Coromandel are the only parts of the country that would still be experiencing heavy rain.

"There's still some heavy rain about for those parts, but it looks like it will ease off nicely."

It was hoped that two schools would reopen tomorrow in Western Bay of Plenty. Oripi and Te Ranga primary schools were closed today due to weather conditions.

The Karangahake Gorge was running high on the Paeroa side earlier this afternoon, but the road over the Kaimai Ranges reopened at about 6.30pm.

The rain band that dumped up to 190mm of rain across the Raukumara Ranges and 205mm on the Kaimai Ranges up to this morning will move towards Auckland tonight, Mr Law said.

Rain in Auckland will be mainly felt tonight, and will start to clear tomorrow.

"Tomorrow will be a transition sort of day for most of the country."

The forecast is for a fine day on Saturday for most of the country.

Rain in the Napier area stopped around 5pm today, and river levels were were threatening to bulge are now all at a safe level.

Gisborne Civil Defence controller Peter Higgs said the district had coped well with the high volumes of rainfall since late Tuesday night.

"If the forecast remains the same, with another 100mm predicted through to 7am tomorrow, we think the rivers and our systems will cope."

The severe weather left thousands of Tauranga, Coromandel and South Waikato homeowners without power for most of yesterday, as felled trees and lines created havoc.

Powerco had restored power to all those cut off in the storm except 200 customers today.

Communications manager for Vector Sandy Hodge said between 300 and 400 customers in the North Auckland region were still without power after the storm that hit Auckland on Tuesday night.

"There's some small pockets of tricky outages we're working on," she said.

Customers around Mahurangi were part of the outage, and workers were focusing on that area this evening.

Vector said 90,000 customers were initially cut off in the storm.

Caravan crushed flat by high winds

A restored caravan was crushed flat by a tree felled by high winds during Tuesday night's storm in Coromandel.

Former rugby league international Richie Barnett was sent photos of the damage to his bach and caravan in Matarangi.

He said he was "gutted" when he saw it had been destroyed.

"The kids loved playing in it, and sometimes they'd sleep there when we're at the bach, it was really well looked after," he said.

'You can't replace something like that."

He had spoken with arborists in the area who had told him 40 trees were brought down on Tuesday night.

Watch: Storm smashes Auckland


Storm 'worst since 1975' - Vector

Thousands of people were still without power today after the worst storm to hit the Auckland region since 1975, Vector said.

Vector said its crews made good progress in restoring power to the majority of the 90,000 customers cut off at the height of the storm.

Vector said several spans of lines were damaged by debris during the storm, complicating restoration efforts.

Is the weather still bad where you are today? Send us your photos here.

Customers are advised to stay away from fallen powerlines and to contact their electricity retailers to report faults and to find out restoration times.

Watch: Auckland storm aftermath


Stories from the storm


One house in Whitianga was blown apart in winds the town's fire chief said were the worst he'd ever encountered.
Merv George said a woman was given "one hell of a scare" when the roof of her Wharekaho Rd home was blown off and the front of the home blown in shortly after 3am.
The home, which Mr George said was like a converted garage, had been damaged so badly he doubted it could be saved.
The woman was unhurt but was forced to take refuge with neighbours.
"I've never seen wind like it before - you couldn't walk against it at times," said Mr George, a long-time Whitianga resident.
In another case, a street had to be closed because of flying 6m pieces of roof iron, some of which were found wrapped around trees.
One of Mr George's fire crew earned the nickname "tumbleweed" after he was knocked from his feet and bowled along the street while trying to collect the helmet that had blown off his head.
Between 2am and 8.30am, his crew attended 15 callouts. "The boys and girls worked really hard."

- Jamie Morton

Blockhouse Bay
Two brothers had a narrow escape after a tree crashed down just centimetres from their bedroom.
Just after 3.30am two large pines fell on a home in Blockhouse Bay, causing extensive damage.
"One took out the garage and my car," said the boys' mother, Sarah Thompson, 34. "The other one smashed on the top of the roof and just narrowly missed my kids' bedrooms by a few centimetres."
Ms Thompson feels very lucky her sons, aged 7 and 9, were not hurt.
She said she had stayed up all night because of the wild winds, and heard the trees crash. "I heard the first crack just after 3, and a couple more cracks and then a big smash."
Her sons were initially "freaked out" but as day broke they were overcome with a spirit of adventure.
"They were excitedly walking around the property looking at all the damage, and they thought it was pretty cool, because they'd have some stories to write about at school."
The main structure of the house was undamaged, and contractors were working to remove the trees.
- Mohamed Hassan

Arkles Bay
Dennis Hawnt of Whangaparaoa woke to find a large tree had crashed through his garage and sleepout.
Mr Hawnt said he woke just after midnight and found that power in his Arkles Bay home was off.
"I went outside and saw the tree had fallen on the garage and the sleepout, but it was good because nobody was in the building at the time."
A local fire brigade was in the area and came to assess the damages.
"It's quite lucky that it didn't land in a more inconvenient place, like on one of the cars or on the house."
Mr Hawnt said he would seek advice from his insurance company before removing the tree.

Mairangi Bay
When Brenda Sweeney heard a bang outside as she lay in bed, she didn't think to check the swimming pool.
It wasn't until she got up the next morning and a neighbour on Mairangi Bay's East Coast Rd asked her if she had checked her backyard that she realised her trampoline had jumped into her 6m swimming pool (pictured above).
The grandmother checked her fence when she was woken by the noise about 2.30am yesterday, but went back to sleep when she saw it was still standing.
"I didn't even think to check the pool ... nothing else could have fitted into it, the trampoline took up all the room." She asked a builder if he would come and take it out but was told he may not be able to arrive for up to two weeks. She tried fire stations on the North Shore but they were too busy with other callouts. One told her to call the northern fire communications centre, which organises the region's callouts.
"Within two minutes, three burly firefighters arrived to help," Ms Sweeney said. "From now on, I will buy a Fire Service calendar every year."

A water tank was all that stood between a falling gum tree and a mother and daughter on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
Robyn Whittaker and her daughter were sleeping in their bedroom when a 15m tree crashed on to the roof of their Manly home just before 2am.
"We just heard an almighty noise and basically a big gum tree had come from the property just up on the hill ... straight down - and on to our house," Ms Whittaker said.
"I was in the bed right under it with my young daughter because she'd got up because of the noise of the storm."
Had the tree not first crashed into the water tank behind their house, it might have come straight through into their bedroom, she said.
"It was a huge tree; enormous, and very heavy," she said. "So the water tank stopped all the weight from coming down on to the house."
Most of the tree is now off the house, but the roof and water system were extensively damaged.
Just 200m up the road, a 14-year-old was taken to hospital with minor injuries yesterday morning after another gum tree crashed through the roof of a house.


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