Battling the big storm

Whittaker Road, Te Pahu. Photo: Waipā District Council.

Waipā felt enough of Cyclone Gabrielle’s force to leave it without power in many places – and a huge mess to clean up.

A National State of Emergency was declared on Tuesday – just the third ever. Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty called it an “unprecedented weather event”.

Te Awamutu escaped much of the damage felt around neighbouring communities.

Police Sergeant Rob Pearce said there was not a lot to report from Te Awamutu – unlike Cambridge, Ōtorohanga and Te Kuiti where there were trees down, slips and flooding.

The Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade reported cyclone incidents in the early hours of Tuesday which led to a tree toppling onto powerlines at Te Rahu Rd between Coulter and Woodstock roads.

Powerlines also fell onto a truck in Seafund Rd, Wharepuhunga – there were no injuries.

In Parawera a social media plea was posted by farmers who were out of power and in desperate need of a generator for milking.

Throughout the Waikato fire and emergency logged 362 in the 24 hours to 1pm Tuesday.

Waipā District Council’s Facebook page kept residents up to date – and won praise.

Murray Rumbles said the council had assisted Fonterra tanker drivers through the night as he reported fallen trees.

Rose Main paid tribute to contractors for “your hard work to ensure our communities are kept as safe as possible…”

Waipā Networks staff also worked through Monday night and Tuesday morning to restore power – but the company noted the wind speeds were making it unsafe for teams to repair damage.

On the road the storm took a toll at Kihikihi and in Te Awamutu on State Highway 3 where emergency services dealt with a vehicle crash and fallen tree.

Waipā District Council reported flooding on rural roads including Whittaker Road, Fillery Road, a road off Te Pahu Road and Wright Road.

Other streets impacted included: Shakespeare Street, Shelley Street, Wordsworth Street,  Arnold Street and Burns Street in  Leamington, Victoria Road in Cambridge, Raynes Road in Rukuhia,  Mangahoe Street, Chamberlain Road in Te Awamutu,  Kaipaki Road and Jary Road in Ōhaupō,  Maungatautari Rd,  Tuhikaramea Road, Ngāhināpouri, Waipapa Road in Wharepapa South, Cambridge Road at Roto-o-Rangi, Arapuni Road and in Pukeatua, Owairaka Valley Road, Maunga Road, Rotongata Road and  Waipapa Road.

And in the midst of the damage there was still humour.

The Cambridge central business district lost power and the Waipā District Council announced “Cross your legs Cambridge – no power means no pumps in our public toilets so we will be closing them until further notice.”

In response Greg Campbell noted: So Covid we spread our legs, cyclones we cross them? Just trying to keep up with the rules.

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