Waitake cleans up after storm

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Debris from Tuesday’s wind event littered the streets of Waimate yesterday, after the town was battered in the widespread storm.

After more than 24 hours without power, electricity was restored to the majority of Waimate, however, Alpine Energy chief executive officer Andrew Tombs said it may not be restored in outlying areas until this afternoon.

Trees more than 100 years old lay lifeless in Knottingley Park and parks and reserves manager Graeme Watts said work began as soon as possible to begin the clearing.

At about 4pm on Tuesday, the Waimate Racecourse grandstands fell victim to the gales and trustee Robbie Crawford said he was unsure whether they would be repaired for the December 15 meeting.

“It looks to be pretty extensive,” he said.

“It’s most unlikely we will have things organised by then.

“It really depends if the underneath parts are able to be saved.”

Lister Home nurse manager Jacqui Boylen said they couldn’t have possibly gone another night without power.

Waimate District Council chief Executive Tony Alden offered the council’s generator if the power had not been restored by 5pm yesterday afternoon.

More than 130 meals for Meals of Wheels were cooked on a barbecue yesterday to ensure deliveries were made.

Waitaki is also cleaning up following Tuesday’s wind event which uprooted trees, knocked out power supplies, upturned trucks and caused a variety of damage including smashed plate-glass windows, flying trampolines, lost rooves on animal shelters and green debris from wind-affected trees.

High winds rolled in the Waitaki early Tuesday afternoon, right on schedule according to Waitaki District Council emergency services manager Chris Raine, who said the storm was building as it hit North Otago.

“Wind gusts were recorded in Oamaru at 65km/h, gusting to 85km/h on the South Hill,” he said.

“The high winds sparked a number of flash fires, particularly from arcing power lines and both the North Otago Rural Fire people and the New Zealand Fire Service were very, very busy.”

Some consumers in parts of Oamaru and surrounding districts lost power as high winds gathered in intensity, but power supplies should now be back to normal, according to Network Waitaki chief executive officer Graham Clark.

“The repairmen have worked very hard to restore the power, which was affected not only by the high winds but also electrical strikes from the storm on Tuesday night,” he said.

“All consumers should have have their power supply back on and we are very grateful to consumers for their patience while they waited to the supply to be restored.”

Roads in the Waitaki District Council appear to have mostly escaped without major damage or interuption to traffic.

Caution is urged when using Thousand Acre Rd and Waianakarua Rd, which have both been affected by falling tree debris, but remain open, and Uxbridge Rd, which has been closed due to fallen trees.

Updates on road closures are available on the Waitaki District Council website at ww.waitaki.givt.nz/services

The storm also hit areas controlled by the Waimate District Council who are currently assessing areas of concern including roads, parks, water supplies and power supplies.

Power was lost to a number of households in the Waimate District after an irrigator crashed over the main supply lines.

According to Mr Alden, there has been considerable damage to council’s parks and reserves which have been closed to the public until the clean-up has been completed.

“Rural water schemes are also operating again and there are no major effects on the town supply,” he said.

“Council staff are not unaware of any roads still currently closed, however drivers are urged to take care with debris on roads.

“As there will be a lot of green waste clean up around the district, the message is for residents to take it to the Resource Recovery Park.”

By Jessie Waite and Jacquie Webby