Parts of Hawke's Bay face weeks without power after weekend snow

By Victoria White -
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Flooded Lake Tutira laps onto the shore earlier this week. Photo / Warren Buckland
Flooded Lake Tutira laps onto the shore earlier this week. Photo / Warren Buckland

Although the weather bomb that hit Hawke's Bay over the weekend has eased, its aftermath will affect rural communities for weeks.

Yesterday Unison Networks announced they would be looking at alternative solutions to restore power to customers on the Taupo Plains, as they face a few more weeks without.

Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said access was a problem as the company was uncovering more damage as it entered areas by foot, four-wheel-drive and helicopter.

"Based on this, and new damage becoming apparent by the day, some customers could be without power for a few weeks," he said.

He said it has been helping customers look at alternatives, including generating their own power.

He said the community understood the extent of what Unison was facing, and the severity of the damage.

"They are facing similar access issues around their farms, limiting their ability to get to their stock, and in and out to the main road," Gough said.

Unison spoke to customers at a meeting at the Rangitaiki Tavern about the network damage.

"This is a massive restoration effort," Gough said. "We are going to throw all we can at it, but the damage is severe and it will take time. We want to look at what alternatives are available with that in mind."

For about 100 customers in rural Hawke's Bay, power was restored yesterday, but another 100 could remain without until the weekend.

Gough said progress was steady, but yesterday's efforts were challenged by difficult terrain and heavy snow in some parts.

"The terrain is really rugged in some areas, and also heavy snow was a huge factor, meaning some customers could be without power until the weekend," he said. "We are doing everything we can out there in rough conditions."

Rising temperatures and calmer conditions are expected from tomorrow, to continue into the weekend.

Occasional showers were expected today, easing tomorrow, plus highs of 12C and 14C.

Northwesterlies were set to move in on Friday and continue over the weekend, when sunshine and temperatures around 15C to 16C were forecast.

After four days of closures all roads around Hawke's Bay had reopened by yesterday afternoon. The last was the Napier-Taupo Rd.

Last night the NZ Transport Agency was still advising caution for road users on SH5, and motorists are urged to expect winter driving conditions, so to take extra care, especially roadworks continue in the area.

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