Critical Infrastructure Disruption in New Zealand on April 10 2018 03:37 AM (UTC).
The worst of the winds are over but 93,000 Auckland homes are still without power, and some may be for days. Auckland was battered by "phenomenally gusty" winds and heavy rain overnight. Gusts reached 100-150kmh across central Auckland, peaking at 213kmh at Manukau Heads. More than 120,000 homes were without power on Wednesday morning - a quarter of Auckland's homes - but crews working on restoration had brought that down to 93,000. Damage to the network was "extensive" and widespread, and it could be several days before power was restored to some areas, Vector said. Aucklanders are being warned to drive only if they have to, with debris and trees littering roads and multiple traffic lights, motorway signage and traffic cameras not working. At the airport, customers are being advised to defer any non-urgent travel. People who must travel on Wednesday could expect disruptions, an Air New Zealand spokesperson said. Winds also tore roofs off houses. In at least one case a tree fell onto a car with a woman inside. Among the most spectacular casualties, a three storey building site collapsed in Hobsonville. The damage to the network was extensive, and it may be several days before power is restored in some areas. "Strong, intense winds and heavy rain have caused widespread damage on the electricity network throughout Auckland," a spokeswoman said. More than 100 field outage staff were spread throughout the region responding to lines down, faults, power outages, and other damage to infrastructure. Vector have had reports from field staff that members of the public were taking it upon themselves to cut trees away from power poles and lines and/or moving downed lines from the roads or driveways themselves. "We must stress to our customers - please, do not do this," she said. "Your safety and the safety of our field staff is our primary concern, and your actions could put yourself and others at risk." Extra outage response crews have been brought in from outside of Auckland to assist with the extremely high number of call-outs, the spokeswoman said. More than 10,000 calls were placed to Vector's contact centre to report power outages, faults, and lines down overnight. The number of people without power varied throughout the night and into Wednesday morning. Vector said crews had restored power to around 90,000 customers as of 2pm, but there were still at least 93,000 without power. Fire and Emergency said they had been "flooded" with 111 calls, with 1611 emergency calls made throughout the country between 6pm Tuesday and 9am on Wednesday. These included calls to trees and powerlines down, roofs blown off houses, houses damaged by falling trees and crashes where cars had hit falling trees, Fire and Emergency northern communications shift manager Daniel Nicholson said. Of those calls, 1257 (78 per cent) were in Auckland alone. The busiest time was between 8pm and 1am, with West Auckland hit first, then reports of damage spreading out across the city, Nicholson said. The strongest winds hit west Auckland from about 8-9pm, then further east from about 9-10pm. The Northern Communication Centre received the most calls between 9pm and 10pm, with more than 560 calls reported in that time. Firefighters were continuing to work through the backlog in the early hours of the morning. The 111 line spiked again between 7-8am as people woke to see and report damage to their homes or around their neighbourhoods. Fire and Emergency's national manager for communication centres, Gavin Travers, says the sheer volume of calls coming through the centre was "startling". He says staff had been working hard to handle calls as fast as possible, but there are still hundreds of calls coming through. Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management said emergency services were "inundated" responding to calls.