While most of us were tucked away in the warmth of our homes, there were groups working in the cold, the wind and the darkness to restore power.
On Tuesday night 10 April through to Wednesday morning 11 April, a weather bomb hit, tearing roofs off houses, displacing trees and downing power lines all over Franklin.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) was flooded with 111 calls. Between 6pm Tuesday 10 April and 9am Wednesday 11 April, the emergency service received a total of 1611 calls. 1257 of those calls, (78 per cent), were call outs from the Auckland area, with 560 calls received by the Northern Communications Centre between 9pm and 10pm on the Tuesday.
Local lines company Counties Power reported that at its peak, 14,600 properties were without power. Crews have since been working around the clock to clear the faults from the 196 lines and 12 poles that were down across the region due to the extreme winds and falling trees. There were 1949 faults across the network in four days, making the recent storm around four times larger than the January 5 event earlier this year.
Local weather man Brian Hamilton said the winds were some of the strongest in years. “The signal station at Manukau Heads recorded 213 kph. On the coast, winds reached 160kph, which is the strongest I’ve recorded in ten years.” He said this was evident through the destruction of trees. “Huge trees like macrocarpa and gum trees were downed.”
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Despite the damage, the Franklin community rallied together and were supportive while the teams set out to complete reparations.
Counties Power Chief Executive Judy Nicholl says community support has been invaluable as a massive response from field crews and support staff has been made to reinstate the network as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We’re so grateful to the people in this community for their understanding of the magnitude of this event and for their patience in difficult circumstances,” she said. “Our crews have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received, from the positive comments on social media to the home-made meals locals have dropped off. From the Awhitu coffee cart that has generously kept our crews going up on the Peninsula to the local bakeries and caterers who we’ve called on requiring huge orders of food at the last minute to keep our crews and support staff sustained, my heart-felt appreciation to you all.”
Ms Nicholl said, “I would also like to thank the entire Counties Power team, who have been true champions, working long hours day and night in horrific conditions to restore power to homes and businesses. We’re also appreciative of support from additional lines crews, traffic management and vegetation crews from Wel Networks and other contractors brought in who we thank for acting so quickly to assist.”
All network and individual property faults have now been cleared, with some private service line work remaining. At 7.30am Monday 16 April, 175 properties still have a power outage on their private service line, however more than fifty percent of these do have part power.
More wild weather is expected to hit this week and property owners are encouraged to maintain trees, and trim branches near power lines.