Top Energy says its network continues to be battered with widespread outages across the region. Photo / Top Energy
Far North residents are being warned to prepare for a potentially week-long wait before power is fully restored to homes in the district.
As of 3.30pm on Monday just over 7700 households were still without power in the Far North as falling trees continued to bring down powerlines as fast as they could be repaired.
That tally was, however, down on the 10,500 homes affected at 8am that morning. The single largest outage, 1338 homes, covered an area from Kapiro to Totara North and included all of Kāeo and Whangaroa. That outage occurred at 12.30pm and was expected to be repaired around 9pm.
One-third of Northpower customers – around 20,000 households – are without power this afternoon.
Northpower chief executive Andrew McLeod said in a social media update that some of the damage is so severe that parts of the network would take days to fix.
Outages have been reported throughout the Whangārei district and many parts of Kaipara, including Mangawhai and Kaiwaka.
Northpower says more outages are expected, given the weather is likely to worsen over the next day or so.
The power company is currently working on outages in the south of Whangārei, affecting hundreds of residents. Areas include Ruakaka, Mata, Oakleigh, Springfield, Marsden Point, One Tree Point, Waipū Cove, Bream Tail, Langs Beach, Maungaturoto, Waipū Gorge, Whakapirau, Mangawhai Village, Moir Point, Black Swamp, Tara, and King Road.
Far North lines company Top Energy said damage to the network was extensive with hazardous conditions impeding repairs and access.
Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said Cyclone Gabrielle was “hitting us hard” with more days of heavy rain and wind ahead.
“Trees, poles and lines are down. Large parts of the network is rural which makes access difficult for the crews who need to carry in equipment for repairs.”
”Repairs are likely to be complex with multiple faults and damaged equipment. We also need to consider the safety of our teams and will not send them out in unsafe conditions.”
The company is working closely with Northland Civil Defence and other essential service agencies responding under the State of Emergency.
“Managing fatigue of those working in the field is a priority and we are rostering our crews to ensure they are rested as there are some long days ahead to repair the network. “When conditions allow, our focus is on repairing the backbone of the network to get as many people back on as possible,” Shaw said.
Shaw said people should check the outage centre on the Top Energy website or download the Top Energy outage app, or log a call with 0800 867 363.
”We would like to remind everyone of the importance of staying well clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment and to treat them as live at all times.
”People using medical equipment that relies on electricity should let their retailer know if they are without power. If there is an immediate health threat, they should contact their health provider or call 111.”
Northpower said crews are still working to isolate power teams out scoping work required for repairs when they can and the vegetation crews are out working on removing trees from lines where it is safe to do so.
Mobile phone networks and power infrastructure was clearly under pressure with many homes across the region without power and phone coverage dropping in and out.