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Storm response ongoing after widespread power network damage
Local lines company Counties Power has been in full storm response since the weather event last Tuesday night that took out power to nearly 15,000 properties around the region.
A further storm on Thursday targeting the already severely damaged network on the region’s west coast and an electrical storm on Saturday that damaged network in the middle of the region added further strain on resources.
The most recent MetService report predicts more bad weather today with thunderstorms and periods of heavy rain between 1000hrs and 1500hrs. Winds are expected to increase during the morning with gusts of up to 100km/h about the west coast and ranges, especially around midday.
With 196 lines and 12 poles down across the region due to extreme winds and trees falling, along with extensive line damage from trees and debris, crews have been working around the clock to clear faults. There were 1949 faults across the network in four days, making this storm event around four times larger than the January 5 event earlier this year.
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. 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.”
The company stresses the importance for property owners to maintain their trees, removing unsafe trees and trimming branches near power lines.
Ms Nicholl says, “If there is one thing that would make a major difference, it is maintaining trees and vegetation. When we get hit with winds travelling in excess of 200km/h, any tree that can cause damage to poles and lines, will inevitably do just that. It can then take hours of work by our tree services team to clear a safe path before our lines crews can even start to repair the damage.”
“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 175 properties still have a power outage on their private service line, however more than fifty percent of these do have part power.
“The reality is, that as our weather patterns change we’re likely to suffer from an increased number of these storms in future and we are prepared and able to keep people informed and respond. We have been told by the majority of customers that our Facebook page has been invaluable as a way to communicate to people affected by the storm. We also use this as a useful tool to warn people of upcoming storms and remind them of storm preparation and power outage tips,” Ms Nicholl says.
As repairs continue into this week, all planned new connection work, planned shutdowns for maintenance and other routine work has been postponed.
In a storm event the first priority is making it safe for the community by isolating power to downed lines and unsafe equipment. When there are hundreds of faults, crews have to make these safety issues a priority, then repair large scale network faults, then area faults and finally individual faults and private service lines.
For anyone who still has a fault on their private service line, an approved electrical contractor can do this work. A list of local contractors can be found at https://www.countiespower.com/service-providers.
More information can be found on vegetation responsibility and regulations, at www.countiespower.com/trees.
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