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Regional Council notes

May 23, 2018 May 2018, Regular Features No Comments

Mother nature delivered us another warning recently by way of a storm that hammered Auckland in particular.  It created havoc across the top of the North Island with 200km winds that tore of roofs and toppled trees leaving hundreds of homes without power; some for many days.

It gave the rest of the island a fair rocking too but, with nowhere near the ferocity, we came off largely unscathed.

In the following days we received news reports that many Aucklanders were still without power.  Sitting in a region, as we do, that is very accustomed to gale force winds, it was easy to guffaw at the television and tell them to get over it.  A bit of further investigation however revealed that actually the majority had their power restored very quickly and it was the more remote rural areas that were posing the problems.  It’s this bit of news that we should actually sit up and take notice of as it could easily happen to us.

Wairarapa has hosted gale force winds for as long as anyone can remember.  A check of old newspaper weather records throws up numerous examples damaging winds hitting Wairarapa. February 1925 – A severe gale swept Wairarapa early in the morning.  Large trees were uprooted, old sheds and fences razed to the ground and crops flattened.  “The force of the wind may be gauged from the fact that the index fingers of the Greytown town clock were unable to keep up with the time and lost fifteen minutes in an hour”.

October 1934 – A severe gale swept throughout the Wairarapa district during the morning leaving hardly a house in Masterton free of damage.  In many cases houses were unroofed or partially so.  Sheds, garages, outbuildings and fences collapsed ‘like cardboard’ and windows and skylights were blown in.

These are just two examples from a very long list so we know that damaging winds are nothing new.  The big difference between then and now though is our total reliance on electricity to go about our daily lives.  It’s no longer just about cooking and lights anymore but computers, mobile phones, cash registers, money machines and devices that do stuff for us.  Without electricity our world grinds to a halt.

So back to the Auckland ‘power crisis’.  It’s obvious that damage from a major storm could be wide ranging and we simply won’t have the manpower to deal with fixing everything at once.  Remote rural districts like much of the Wairarapa will probably be last on the list so are we prepared?  We all know that in the event of a big earthquake we should be equipped to ‘go it alone’ for 7 days but it’s frightening just how many families are still not well prepared for a major emergency.  Realistically though we are more likely to be hit by a storm than suffer ‘the big one’ so  if you have taken the time to be disaster-ready then you are probably well enough organised to cope without electricity for an extended length of time.

If not, then perhaps it is time to give some serious thought as to how you might cope with life off the grid for a week or two.  How will you cook, charge your phone, run your business, know what time it is?  If you have an electric car what will you use for transport?  With winter coming up it may pay to check that there is plenty of fuel in the BBQ’s gas bottle – just in case.

Adrienne Staples

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