Flooding, power outages as severe gales, rain take toll
Thousands of Northlanders across the region are without power and a number of roads are flooded with the gale forces winds that have been battering the region expected to continue into this afternoon.
Claire Nyberg, spokesperson for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group says electricity, sewage treatment, roading and other officials were waiting for daylight today to begin inspecting the toll from the storm in more detail.
However, as of about 7am today, large areas of Northland were without power, including about 6500 customers of Northpower in Dargaville, Maungaturoto, Kaiwaka, Waipu, Poroti, Pakotai, Parakiore, Matapouri, Parua Bay, Hikurangi and Whangarei city. Some of those affected had reportedly been without power since yesterday afternoon.
Ms Nyberg says further north, a number of customers of Far North power company Top Energy are also without power but officials were still waiting to speak to it to gain a more accurate picture of its outages.
The outages were also affecting local authority sewage treatment pumping stations, telecommunications were also out at spots across the region and a number of boats had also broken free or come aground.
However, Ms Nyberg says while the heavy rain had fallen since yesterday largely as predicted by forecasters – and had caused road closures and flooding at a number of usually affected spots in the region – it was the gale force winds that were of more concern.
While the MetService was expected to review its forecasts about 9am today, at this stage it believed the severely easterly gales – which had reached almost 170kmh at Cape Reinga yesterday – would continue until this afternoon.
And power companies are warning that with multiple high and low voltage lines down, public need to keep a close watch for these and stay well clear today.
They say dozens of lines staff will be deployed to assess and repair network damage at first light, although due to the weather conditions their efforts will be hampered.
Ms Nyberg says in case of emergencies or to report downed lines, people should phone 111.
Similarly, Northpower is asking its customers to phone Northpower's faults line on 0800 10 40 40 to report the potential cause of outages, although due to high call volumes they may experience delays getting through.
Ms Nyberg says in all cases, people should be extremely careful today and avoid travelling unless absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, she says Northland Regional Council figures show in the 22 hours to 6am today 157.2mm of rain had fallen at Kaikohe, 149.5mm at Oromahoe, 126mm at Puhipuhi, 118.5mm at Kerikeri, 93.8mm at the council's Whangarei offices, 98.5mm on Kaipara's Tutamoe Ranges and 36mm at Dargaville. Figures for Kaitaia were not available.
Ms Nyberg says in Kaikohe's case, the amount of rain it had received in just under 24 hours was very close to the amount it would normally receive for the entire month of July.
She says Civil Defence will continue to closely monitor the weather situation today and update the public as required, including through the Northland CDEM Group's Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland
Information about any local district council road and State Highway closures/issues in Northland while warnings are in force is available from the Automobile Association website via www.AAroadwatch.co.nz
The site contains a map and brief description of closed/affected roads and an indication of when the issue/s involved is likely to be resolved.
General Civil Defence information is also available from the Northland Regional Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence