15 Mar 2012

40 rural properties still without power after severe storm

7:46 am on 15 March 2012

About 40 rural properties, mostly farms, were still without power almost two weeks after severe storms that left a trail of destruction across the southern Taranaki and Whanganui districts.

The properties still affected on Wednesday are in the Patea, Waverly and Waitotara areas, as well as some farms in the Whanganui hill country.

Lines company Powerco says the damage has been so great it's had to completely rebuild line networks in some places, but expects to have power restored to all areas by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, foresters have begun the task of clearing hundreds of hectares of trees flattened or damaged in the storm.

Forest owner and consultant John Turkington, who runs and manages forests in the southern North Island, says recovering much of the fallen timber will be a huge challenge.

He says some forests may have 10 to 25% of their trees either broken or lying on the ground, but to retrieve them it's necessary to knock down the complete forest.

Mr Turkington says many of the trees are tangled in other trees so clearing up is very dangerous, slow and expensive.

He says some of the forests, depending on the age and nature of the wood, will net a reasonable return, but others will essentially be clean-up jobs and will be a cost.

Mr Turkington says a lot of the recovered timber will have to be exported as logs to get a return and that means transporting it to the ports of Taranaki or Wellington.

Much of the timber is smashed into short lengths which will also limit the options for selling it.