Rotorua storm and tornado clean up

By Katie Holland

Damage from the wild weather that hit Rotorua this week has been largely cleared and power restored.

The region experienced flooding, fallen trees and downed power lines on Thursday, as it was hit by heavy rain and thunderstorms. A tornado also hit the Sunnex Rd area in Hamurana, terrifying residents and bringing down hundreds of trees on one property alone.

Rotorua District Council works manager Peter Dine said as soon as it was safe to do so on Thursday, workers were out clearing up the affected areas.

"It was mainly trees down and a little bit of surface flooding in various places around town,'' he said.

He said the felled trees were mainly around the Sunnex Rd area, which took the brunt of the tornado, with some also down in the Waikite Valley.

Mr Dine said most of the damage had been cleared by yesterday morning and hadn't stretched council resources too much.


"For our infrastructure it was pretty light really.''

Castlecorp manager Mike Davies said the storm didn't do much damage within Rotorua city, despite the heavy

rain, with just one call out to a flooded driveway where people couldn't get out.

Unison customer relations manager Danny Gough said most customers had their power restored by Thursday night, bar one or two exceptions.

He said they had lost power lines and poles mainly in rural areas such as Kaharoa and Hamurana but said the

fallout from the storm "could have been worse''.

"It was not that bad in the end,'' he said. "We had 300-400 customers without power [at any one time] across the



Mr Gough said Unison would have more work to do over the coming week, replacing transformers and changing over damaged gear. How ever that would not affect customers.

He said while crews were used to dealing with wind, tornadoes were rare.

"It struck unannounced, we were not aware it was coming.''

Although the power was back on, some residents reported still being without telephone and internet access yesterday.

One of those was Waikite Valley dairy farmer Ches Chesby, who said lightning struck a power pole outside the farm as his wife Vicky was putting the children in the car on Thursday afternoon cutting power to the farm and forcing staff to use a generator to milk the cows.

They didn't finish milking until 10pm that night.

"It blew the circuit to the cow shed,'' he said.

"It got us good.''

According to the MetService website, Rotorua Airport recorded wind gusts of up to 96km/h and 42mm of rain on

Thursday. But he stormy weather is now behind us, according to Rotorua weatherman Brian Holden.

"Everything is going to die down, we have a fine weekend to look forward to,'' he said.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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