Storm takes a heavy toll on Ran­gi­tikei

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - ALISTER BROWNE

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.

PHOTO: ELISABETH BUNN/SUP­PLIED

A snow dump in Tai­hape has caused dam­age.

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