Storm recovery work continues in North
Post storm-recovery work – including 24/7 efforts to repair an important slip-affected section of State Highway One south of Kawakawa – is continuing in Northland.
Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says work to meet the immediate welfare needs of those impacted by the recent storm, including flooding and power cuts, is ongoing.
In the Far North, power company Top Energy is working hard to restore power to roughly 100 customers who have been without electricity since last week, with the Wekaweka area, in the Hokianga, proving a particular difficult repair job.
Mr MacDonald says the area involved includes a large unstable area of pine forest and logging crews would need to be called in to remove trees as part of the repair process. At this stage it was not clear how long that process might take and there was also a possibility the company would need to fly replacement poles in once the trees had been removed.
It was possible the repairs could still take several more days and Mr MacDonald says authorities are working closely to with the power companies to ensure locals' needs were being met, including delivering a portable shower unit and other supplies.
The power companies say as feared, the waterlogged nature of the region overall continues to pose problems with large trees in both the Ngunguru area in the Whangarei District and south of Dargaville falling over on to lines and causing power cuts despite calm conditions yesterday. The problem is apparently being caused because the ground surrounding the trees' roots is sodden and unable to hold the trees up.
The power companies say fortunately most of those incidents can currently be repaired fairly quickly and continue to urge people to contact them to ensure they are aware of their problems. Top Energy's fault line number is 0800 867 363 and Northpower's 0800 10 40 40.
"Power companies continue to urge anyone coming across downed power lines to treat them as live at all time, stay well away from them and to report them to ensure they are addressed."
Mr MacDonald says the Far North District Council, firefighters and other agencies continue to provide support to flood-affected Moerewa residents and a team of council staff including building inspectors, engineering and welfare continue to work in the area today.
On the roading front, authorities have brought in extra plant and staff from Auckland and are working 24/7 to repair a large slip which has closed State Highway One south of Kawakawa.
They have stripped and cleared a site for a temporary diversion around the slip site, which will have at least one sealed lane controlled by signals.
However, they say the ground at the repair site is waterlogged and a lot of groundwater needs to be drained. Despite working 24/7, the area they were working in is quite small which limited the amount of staff and equipment that could be onsite at any time and it could still take a number of days before the temporary road was open.
Despite that, Mr MacDonald says Civil Defence has no concerns about food and other supplies to the North. While it involved long diversions, goods trucks were still able to reach virtually all parts of the region and deliveries were being made.
He says in the Far North, anyone whose home is flooded or who urgently needs accommodation, food, heating, clothing or medical supplies should phone Far North District Council's freephone 0800 920 029 in the first instance. (The Whangarei District Council has a similar service for those needing help in its district; 0800 932 463.)
The Ministry of Social Development – which is working closely with other agencies in Northland – reported it had dealt with about 70 extra storm-related hardship cases across the region, largely in the Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Kaitaia areas.
The Far North District Council advises that public water supplies in Paihia, Haruru Falls and Opua areas are today returning towards normal, however, the council is still asking people to be sensible about water use in case there are further operational issues at its water treatment plant.
Mr MacDonald says information about local district council road and State Highway closures/issues in Northland is available from the Automobile Association website via www.AAroadwatch.co.nz or the NZTA website www.nzta.govt.nz
Recovery and other storm-related information will also continue to be posted as required, including on the Northland CDEM Group's Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland and the Northland Regional Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence
Meanwhile, Mr MacDonald says Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye is visiting the Far North today for a first-hand look at the situation and briefing, while Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was today in Whangarei on a similar visit.
The Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 – is also continuing to liaise with and support flood-affected farmers and horticulturists.