16 Jul 2017

Storm-damaged power network likely to cost $2m to repair

7:49 pm on 16 July 2017

The lines company Powerco estimates it will cost at least $2 million to repair the damage caused by this week's storm.

Powerco today restored power to the township of Mangaweka, although some rural and remote areas still remain without power tonight.

Powerco today restored power to the township of Mangaweka, although some rural and remote areas still remain without power tonight. Photo: Powerco

Powerco still has 1300 customers in Manawatu and Rangitikei without power, but is continuing to work tonight to have them reconnected, and from first thing tomorrow.

The company's Operations Manager, Phil Marsh, said the Central Plateau remained the worst affected area where heavy snowfall and high winds brought down poles and lines.

"The complexity of the damage to more than 50 poles and kilometres of downed lines in the area has meant that work is slower than we anticipated.

"About 800 customers in the Central Plateau remained without power and it could take a few more days to restore supply to some very rural customers."

He said people were saying the snow storm was the worst in the region since 2002.

Mr Marsh said most of today's repairs had been in Taranaki and Palmerston North.

He said the damage was spread across the company's large region, which covers much of the bottom half of the North Island.

Mr Marsh said people should remain wary of downed lines. He said any one coming across downed lines should keep well clear of them and call emergency services or Powerco immediately.

Greenlea Rescue Helicopter

The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter had to visit the Central Plateau twice yesterday. Photo: Philips Search and Rescue Trust

Meanwhile, the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter was dispatched overnight to fly a woman with a medical condition from the Central Plateau to Rotorua Hospital.

A spokesperson said although the flight conditions were clear, it was relatively bumpy at times with winds of more than 200km per hour around the mountain at flight altitudes.

The helicopter later had to make another trip from the Central Plateau to Rotorua Hospital after a man sustained spinal injuries when he slipped on ice.

Much of New Zealand felt the winter chill this week, with heavy snow in the South Island and the centre of the North Island.

With the snow bringing down power lines, more than 10,000 homes had their power knocked out earlier this week.

On the East Coast, about 30 properties in remote areas serviced by the Eastland lines company were still without power this morning.

And in Paraparaumu on the Kāpiti Coast, 10 streets were affected by power cuts this morning.

Powerco has been restoring power in Mangaweka today.

Powerco has been restoring power in Mangaweka today. Photo: Powerco

SH38 only state highway still closed

The Transport Agency is urging drivers to remain cautious, as chilly weather stops the ice and snow already on the roads from melting.

The state highway network was badly affected by snow and ice this week, with many roads in the North and South Islands shut.

The last road to be opened was State Highway 56 at Opiki in Horowhenua, which was closed last week because of flooding.

State Highway 38 between Wairoa and Urerewa National Park is the last remaining highway that is closed, as it is still affected by flooding.

The Desert Road, which had been shut since Wednesday, re-opened just before 11am today.

The Transport Agency is warning of icy conditions on roads throughout the Central North Island, and the lower South Island.

In the South Island, there is black ice on SH80 between Ben Ohau Range and Aoraki Mount Cook and on SH87 between Middlemarch and Outram.

Other highways affected by ice or snow, but still open, are SH82 Kurow to Waimate, SH8 Twizel to Fairlie, SH8 Clarksville to Raes Junction, SH90 Raes Junctions to Mcnab, SH87 Kyeburn to Middlemarch and SH85 Kyeburn to Palmerston.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs