Storm takes a heavy toll on Rangitikei
Fire and ice tormented stormbattered rural folk around Mangaweka and Taihape during the past few weeks.
A farmhouse burned in Turakina Valley Road in a blaze thought to have been caused by a candle after the lights went out.
Reaching the fire was was ‘‘a bit of a mission’’ because of toppled trees blocking the roads, Taihape firefighter Mike Collings said.
Nothing could be done to save the house, but the family of four who lived there escaped the flames and were found another home on the same farm.
Meanwhile, Powerco got heavy with its efforts out the back of Mangaweka, where a staggering 60 power poles were estimated to have been downed by snow and wind, sometimes in a line of a dozen.
Powerco said it had 190 customers in the area who were powerless and had flown in a heavy-lifting helicopter to bring new poles into the region.
But how successful it was in dodging the damaged country roads depended on how windy it became, a spokesman said.
Strong winds would ground the chopper, he said.
Some of the roads along which badly hit residents lived were identified by Powerco as Kawhatau Valley Road, Omatane Rd, Toe Toe Rd, and Te Kapua Rd.
Mother of two Elisabeth Bunn lives on Mangarere Road in the Kawhatau Valley on a sheep and beef farm, about 10 kilometres from State Highway 1.
Bunn said what bugged her most was not knowing what was going on in the outside world.
There were fears, for example, that some farms could be without power for months because of the damage wreaked by the storm but no-one was sure.
And with their road looking like it was subsiding in parts they were becoming worried about their own access to and from their home.
Lack of maintenance had been exposed by the storm, Bunn said.
Her kids were fine - ‘‘like camping in the winter’’ - cooking on the fire and suchlike.
But they escaped to the movies in Palmerston North one day to get away from it all, especially the constant hum of the generator they had been using for power.
Rangitikei District mayor Andy Watson said the snow dump would inevitably add to the district council’s roading repair costs but the maths hadn’t yet been done.
A snow dump in Taihape has caused damage.