Three weeks after Cyclone Gabrielle caused devastation across Hawke’s Bay, Unison remains committed to restoring power to all customers as quickly as possible.
At the height of the power emergency on Tuesday 15 March, 75,000 customers were without power in Hawke’s Bay. As at 5.30pm today, 1,238 customers power remain without power in the region, mostly in isolated rural areas.
Unison’s Incident Controller and GM for Commercial Jason Larkin says, “We understand how hard it has been for these communities to be without power for such a long time.
“We are as committed today as ever to throwing all our resources at this challenging response, pulling every stop and thinking outside the square to reconnect and restore power for these customers as quickly as possible.”
Over the weekend Unison restored power to Tutira and surrounding areas, as well as parts of Waipatiki and Apley Road. Work is underway to begin restoring power to communities in Te Pohue, Te Haroto and the Esk Valley using generators.
Unison is now providing generation to 1,035 customers to meet the essential welfare needs of isolated households who are unable to be reconnected to the network due to extensive cyclone damage and access issues, in areas including Glengarry, Puketapu, Patoka, Hendley, Omarunui Road and South Puketapu.
Generation to these isolated communities is a significant achievement for Unison crews after they overcame major access challenges and undertook complex repairs to reconnect households following damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. Unison continues to meet with rural communities to develop restoration plans that meet their need, including using generation where possible.
We are also working with owners of flood damaged properties that have not been red stickered, to electrically inspect and reconnect these when safe. This is a huge task in itself, with around one thousand known flood-damaged properties. Crews working with electrical contractors are going street by street, door to door.
“Every reconnection is another step closer to achieving 100% restoration for Hawke’s Bay.
“I want to reiterate just how grateful and thankful we are to our communities for their continued patience and support while our teams work around the clock on our response. While we are making good progress, we know the job’s not yet done. Our teams and crews remain focused and are working at pace to get the lights fully on.”
Restoration plans and details of rural community meetings can be found at www.unison.co.nz
Some important key messages for the community are as follows:
- For customers still without power who reside in an area that is now reconnected to Unison’s network (areas coloured green on Unison’s online restoration map), please check if there are lights on in your meter box. If not, then you do not have power to your property. Please log a fault at www.unison.co.nz/outages. This will ensure Unison is aware of the issue and can make arrangements to assess and, where possible, restore power. We encourage customers to check in on any neighbours, whānau or friends who may still be without power and pass on this message.
- Occasional outages to be expected over the coming weeks:
- Customers may experience occasional outages over the next few weeks. These could be as short as 5-10 minutes but may last longer and may be more frequent at peak times. We urge customers to be prepared – guidance on preparation for outages can be found on Unison’s website at: Electricity outages – be prepared (unison.co.nz)
- Conserve power where possible:
- We ask customers with power, to please conserve it while Hawke’s Bay is on limited supply. Switch off lights when they’re not in use, air dry laundry, if possible, unplug devices if they’re not charging, turn appliances off at the wall when you’re not using them, use a microwave or air-fryer to heat food instead of the oven, and only run the washing machine with a full load.
- Hot water: All customers who reside in an area that is now reconnected to Unison’s network (areas coloured green on Unison’s online restoration map) should have their hot water back on. If a customer in these areas has no hot water, they should log a fault at www.unison.co.nz/outages. Customers in generated areas (areas coloured orange on Unison’s online restoration map) may have no or limited hot water, and we ask that they please bear with us while we work to get them fully reconnected.
- Please respect and stay clear of Unison crews as they work
- Unison crews are working hard to repair sections of the power network: Our crews, contractors and those of Transpower are working long hours in challenging and dangerous conditions to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Many of them have also been impacted personally by Cyclone Gabrielle. Please keep your distance, and respect crews as they focus on completing repairs.
- During power outages, Unison regularly advises the following safety precautions:
- Check for fallen or damaged electricity lines and treat lines as live at all times. Never touch wires or lines lying on the ground, hanging from poles, or objects such as tree branches that may be touching them. Fallen lines or wires may still be carrying an electrical current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched. Unison is urging anyone who sees a power line down to report these to www.unison.co.nz/outages
- Turn off the power at the main switch if you suspect any electrical damage in your home. If the power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances to prevent possible damage by a power surge when the electricity supply is restored.
- When the electricity network is damaged, it might take some time to get reconnected, so make sure you have a battery-operated radio, a torch, spare batteries, and a full gas bottle for your BBQ as part of your emergency kit.
- Medically dependant customers are advised to prepare for the likelihood of no power and make alternative arrangements in advance.
- Outages should be reported at www.unison.co.nz/outages in the first instance, as we are experiencing high call volumes through our call centre, which can still be used for those who do not have access to the internet – 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476).
For more information, contact unison.communications@unison.