Customers face overnight blackout
Heavy snowfalls, downed lines and flooding have created havoc across Powerco's electricity network with several thousand customers facing a night without power.
Snow in the central North Island is blocking several highways and preventing field crews from getting to downed lines.
Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said at 2pm about 11,000 customers were without power.
“We are doing the best we can, given the stormy conditions, to get to the problem areas but we have to ensure the safety of our workers. The storm is not over yet so there may be more damage as it moves north. Our crews will continue to work until about 9pm and then emergency crews will be on standby overnight.”
Damage was spread throughout Powerco’s Western District network which included Wairarapa, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Ohakune, Waiouru and Taihape.
“The snow has made road access impossible and helicopters will be needed to survey the damage, particularly in the Ohakune, Waiouru and Taihape areas. But that’s not possible today because of the high winds.”
Plans were being prepared for a concerted effort from first light tomorrow (Friday) to restore power to as many customers as possible.
“Fallen trees and branches have brought down lines and smashed poles across the network so there is considerable repair work in front of us,” Mr Marsh said.
“People should take extreme care if they see trees down and need to check for downed lines which are dangerous and must be treated as live at all times.”
“Any one coming across downed lines should keep well clear of them and call emergency services on 111 or Powerco on 0800 27 27 27 immediately.
The storm had struck right in the middle of the school holidays and he urged parents to keep family indoors until it passed.
“Trampolines and outdoor furniture become missiles and get tangled in power lines during gale force winds,” he said.
Customers wanting information about power cuts can go to www.powerco.co.nz or call their electricity retailer.