Worst storm in years strikes the heart of dis­trict

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - ALISTER BROWNE

Tai­hape res­i­dents and busi­nesses are left deal­ing with the nasty af­ter­math of a snow­storm that slammed the area tak­ing out pow­er­lines, block­ing roads and caus­ing slips and floods.

Man­gaweka cafe owner Sharon Grayson said the snow blitz shut down her busi­ness for days last week.

Grayson, who lives in Tai­hape, said the re­gion was paral­ysed by the snow­storm - there was no power, no cell­phone cov­er­age, blocked roads, slips, trees down, and flood­wa­ter from snow melt and rain. ‘‘It’s pretty bad.’’ She said she had to drive to south of Ohin­gaiti in search of cell­phone re­cep­tion and she couldn’t open her cafe.

‘‘We’re go­ing to lose a lot of money.’’

The tim­ing of the storm couldn’t have been much worse for it was the school hol­i­days, which would have meant plenty of pass­ing cus­tom if State High­way 1 wasn’t buried un­der snow.

Grayson said the lack of lights from houses was es­pe­cially no­tice­able when she was out driv­ing. Pow­erco re­ported last week 10 poles were down in Man­gaweka, sus­pected ca­su­al­ties of the weight of snow that had fallen.

A spokesman said how soon power would be re­stored to the hun­dreds with­out it de­pended on the weather im­prov­ing so the com­pany could ac­cess the ar­eas with re­pair crews.

‘‘We're go­ing to lose a lot of money.’’ Sharon Grayson

Grayson said she had lived in the area since 1989 and couldn’t re­call a weather event as bad since the flood of around 2002.

‘‘Not one busi­ness was open in Tai­hape.’’

On the home front, she said they had a chip heater and a bar­be­cue, so that was some con­so­la­tion.

A Ran­gi­tikei Dis­trict Coun­cil spokesman said the med­i­cal cen­tre at Tai­hape was giv­ing hot food and drinks to any­one who needed some­thing.

‘‘They’ve had a few peo­ple pop in,’’ he said.

He said the sit­u­a­tion wasn’t dire enough to force the coun­cil to open its own emer­gency cen­tres.

The Tai­hape po­lice were re­duced to us­ing a sin­gle cell­phone net­work due to power out­ages.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Man­gaweka was im­pass­able un­til weather cleared enough for farm­ers to clear sec­tions of the road.

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