The day the snow came to Manawatu

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - CARLY THOMAS

What started off as a beau­ti­ful cov­er­ing of pic­turesque snow soon turned into a ma­jor an­noy­ance for many who call the Ruahine Range their neigh­bour.

Res­i­dents in Apiti, north of Kim­bolton, woke up to a heavy snow fall on the morn­ing of July 13.

Pam Stra­han said it was ‘‘pretty and lovely to look at’’, un­til the power went out.

‘‘I could hear trees break­ing and branches snap­ping.

‘‘The snow that had built up started to crash down and it was a bit fright­en­ing. It was snow­ing quite heavy and it was just get­ting deeper and deeper re­ally quickly.’’

Stra­han said even get­ting wood was hard, and her son Ben Stra­han had a near miss when a large tree branch fell, bring­ing with it the power line to the house.

‘‘I heard this big boom and it came down right where he was at the wood shed, prac­ti­cally on his head.’’

Ben was fine and the wood was even­tu­ally fetched but the Stra­hans had no power for four days.

But oth­ers, said Stra­han, were worse off.

In Rangi­wahia some re­mote prop­er­ties could be with­out power for weeks as not only power lines are down but power poles as well.

Greg Clifton said they were pre­pared with a large gen­er­a­tor that cov­ered most of their needs.

‘‘I fill it up in the morn­ing and that lasts us till about six at night. At 20 gal­lons a day, it’s a pretty ex­pen­sive way to power the house but the worst part is get­ting out there to turn the bloody thing off in your py­ja­mas. That job is to­tally del­e­gated to me.’’

Kim Lock­wood, too, is re­ly­ing on his gen­er­a­tor. He farms in Umu­toi and was hope­ful, ear­lier this week that power would be re­stored quickly.

‘‘You just scratch along. It’s been a while since we’ve had a dump like this and our big­gest prob­lem now is the ground con­di­tions.

‘‘At the back of the farm the sheep up there have well over a me­tre of snow to ne­go­ti­ate, they are very re­silient.

‘‘We can’t get there so we just have to put that out of our mind. The cattle are off the crops and they are get­ting a dou­ble dose of baleage.’’

Lock­wood said they are pretty much left to fig­ure out things for them­selves, and it is the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity that keeps every­body safe.

‘‘Every­body looks out for every­body and we just get on with it, but there is a feel­ing that we are left to our own de­vices. I’m fine, but I do worry about if there was an ex­pec­tant mum or some­thing like that and there is no power and no phone.’’

Pow­erco Net­work Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Phil Marsh said more than 200 field staff were work­ing to re-es­tab­lish power.

‘‘There may be still some pock­ets that will take longer but they will be con­tacted by ei­ther Pow­erco or a lo­cal coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive.’’

He said cus­tomers could help them by iden­ti­fy­ing any con­tin­u­ing is­sues.

‘‘As we fix the main lines it is im­por­tant that if cus­tomers have part power or no power, es­pe­cially when neigh­bours do have sup­ply, they con­tact their re­tailer.

‘‘The dam­age is scat­tered across large ar­eas, which in­ten­si­fies the chal­lenges for our crews.’’

CARLY THOMAS/STUFF

Deziah Maki, 10, Zari­nah Maki, 2, and Kae­sahn Maki, 6, play in the snow on Ta­ble Flat Road in Apiti.

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