Heating canned spaghetti and cheese toasties over candles is how a widow, housebound by her illness, and her grandson got through Auckland's power cut.
Fiona Ramsay, 60, was one of 182,000 customers in Auckland who lost power after last Tuesday's storm. Last night, Vector said there were fewer than 400 properties still without power as a result of the storm.
Ramsay tragically lost her partner Mark William Hemi in 2002, after he was run over by a train, and is the sole caregiver for her 8-year-old grandson, TJ.
Power went out in their Swanson home on Tuesday just before 8pm, when a "great big tree" took out the lines down the road, Ramsay said.
It was restored on Friday at about 5.30pm. TJ was home for two days while his school was shut due to the outage.
Ramsay, who is on a sickness benefit for severe osteoarthritis in both knees, said spending four days without power was "a struggle".
"We were not prepared," she said.
"I was housebound because of my osteoarthritis. My phone went flat on Tuesday evening too, so I couldn't get updates on the situation or call anybody for assistance.
"I felt hopeless. Just not knowing what was going on. At night time my grandson was freaking out. The house was getting pummelled in the winds.
"All I had was two scented candles. We were heating stuff in pots over candles, that's how desperate we were.
"We couldn't quite boil water with them, but we could get it warm enough to make a drink."'
They lived off cans of spaghetti, sandwiches, and even the odd cheese toastie.
Ramsay does the shopping each fortnight on a Monday, meaning she had completely stocked up the fridge and freezer.
She likes to bulk buy where she can, and had spent about $70 on 10kg of chicken, because it was on special.
That was now part of about $300 worth of food she had to throw out.
She and TJ carried on in their dire situation until Thursday, when her oldest grandson came and checked on them. They went straight to Mitre 10 to stock up on supplies.
"I used all my sickness benefit on a portable gas stove, gas canisters, candles, a torch and more food as everything went off."
She rang Work and Income New Zealand, and was offered $70 emergency assistance.
Ministry of Social Development general manager of client service delivery Kay Read said the contact centre received 73 calls over the weekend, including a call from Ramsay on Saturday.
"Fiona advised us she needed help to buy food. We offered a special needs grant of $70 because we needed to allow for funds to pay for food she may need in the future as there is a limit to the funds we can give clients over a given period.
"At the time Fiona agreed to the amount. She didn't say she had to buy a gas oven or gas equipment. We will contact Fiona and talk with her about her situation given this new information. We can help her and we apologise for any additional stress caused by our decision."
Ramsay said it was "a rough week and I would not want to go through it again".
"If I had known the storm was going to be so bad I would have made sure I was better prepared."
She said the irregular updates about when the power would be restored were "frustrating".
She heard initially it would be back on Wednesday at 6pm, then 12pm Thursday, then 6pm, then Friday.
However, if it ever happened again, she would make sure she was prepared.
"We have all of the gear now, and I will make sure my phone is never below 80 per cent, just in case. Everybody should be prepared and have their own emergency kits."