22 Feb 2018

Taranaki struggles in aftermath of Gita

7:54 pm on 22 February 2018

Many Waitara residents are still without power - and now have no running water - as Taranaki continues to struggle with the aftermath of Cyclone Gita.

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Many residents are still without running water. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

A state of emergency remains in place in New Plymouth where a boil water notice has been issued, water tankers deployed and many businesses and most schools are closed.

A steady stream of locals has been lining up for water at an emergency tanker stationed at the Waitara War Memorial Hall today after waking up to find their taps had run dry.

Similar scenes were playing out around the district.

Monica Crean was facing a double whammy.

"I've had no power for 43 hours and the water went out this morning and we've only got a small amount for my cattle, horses and stock."

Ms Crean had already taken drastic action with the contents of one freezer. Another was packed with bags of ice.

"So my freezers are gone. All my meat in my freezers is gone, which is okay, the insurance will cover that.

"We've got no water to clean up the freezers so there's just a big hole (in the garden) with all my homekill and stuff."

Ms Crean said if the power did not come back on soon she would have to bury the rest of her homekill.

Monica Crean.

Monica Crean. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Near neighbour Silvia Gosse was in a similar boat.

"I've still got no power, no water. So hence no shower. I've just taken a freezer load of food that's starting to thaw off to a friend who has power but she's out in the country and on a different line."

Ms Gosse said the whole experience had been unsettling.

"It is actually quite stressing because you don't realise until a disaster happens that what you miss is the power and the water which is the most essential thing to keep things running."

Back at the water tanker Shelton Healey was glad he left emergency planning to his wife.

"Everything was pretty good until we had to get up and organised for a shower and you sort of found out the real inconvenience or problems we were facing.

"But I'm very lucky the wife organised the emergency kit and put a far amount of water in our containers."

'People are using wipes to clean themselves'

At the Waitara New World owner John Williams said water had been flying off the shelves.

And it was not only water that had been selling.

"The other thing we're selling a hell of a lot of is wipes because people are using wipes to clean themselves. It's something you never think of."

In New Plymouth the owner of the Kitchen Table cafe, Pauline Spragg, said businesses had had to be innovative to stay open.

"We've had to bypass the council water so we need to keep filling up our bottles and my father has a motorhome which carries about 200 litres of water.

"So I'm taking the water from out of there to fill up our bottle of fresh water."

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom said engineers hoped to have fixed the busted water main by tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Holdom said people would still need to boil water for seven days once the system was up and running again.

A plan was also being put in place to stop a similar problem happening again, he said.

"There is a second work pipe with independent crews. They're working on a back up so that should an event like this happen here in the future we're able to maintain supply.

"People would still need to boil their water but supply would be maintained."

Meanwhile, Lines company Powerco said about 5000 people were still without power in Taranaki.

It hoped to restore electricity around Waitara tonight.

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