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Many areas in S Cant'y still without power, Phones

June 14, 2006

MEDIA STATEMENT

Many areas in South Canterbury still without power, telephones

Many small communities in areas in Canterbury affected by this week’s snow are still without power and telephones, but more and more areas are starting to become accessible by road. Civil Defence and Local Authorities are helping to co-ordinate work between utility providers like Telecom and power companies. Road maintenance contractors are out clearing the roads.

Several helicopters are currently working in areas isolated by snow, either supporting utility line repairs or attending to stock. “This provides an opportunity for people in isolated areas to contact, or convey their situation back to, authorities,” says Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Planner, Jon Mitchell. He says Federated Farmers are helping to co-ordinate activities in remote areas and has also offered to co-ordinate helicopter support in South Canterbury. It is likely that calls from farmers for assistance to remove stock from deep snow will increase as conditions and access improve. He says there are concerns about water supplies for stock in some areas.

Some areas may still have to wait a week or more for electricity to be re-connected, but emergency response organisations are confident that most remote communities and farms have some alternative forms of energy. Most schools in the affected areas are still closed.

He says response organisations are now planning ahead to the weekend and into the following week to identify further issues, particularly should there be more snow.

Waimate District
Most roads in the district should re-open today. One area of concern yesterday, was Cannington, northwest of Waimate, but the road to the small settlement is being cleared now and Waimate District Council staff hope they will be able to establish contact soon. Although most landlines are still out, cell phones are operating in most of the more populated areas. Generators are being used to maintain water supplies to most of the towns and settlements in the district. Efforts are under way to free stock stranded in deep snow in hill areas.

McKenzie District
Most roads in the district are now accessible again, and Burke’s Pass to Tekapo should be re-opened later today. Power is back in Twizel and Fairlie and intermittently in Tekapo. Mackenzie District Council Civil Defence staff have concerns about the small settlement of Halton near Lake Benmore, which would probably have to stay without power until at least the end of the week. Phone connections are still out in most areas, but contact has been established with farmers in most areas.

Timaru
Most rural areas and part of Timaru are still without power and Timaru District Council Civil Defence staff are organising four-wheel drive vehicles to do a door-knock in previously isolated rural areas to identify welfare issues. Telephone contact is limited throughout the rural areas in the Timaru District.

Ashburton
Several areas within the Ashburton District are still without power, but most settlements should have their power back on today. However, there are some remote areas in the district that are expected to be without power for up to three weeks. Telephone landline services are still disrupted in some areas, due mainly to lack of electricity to repeaters.

Selwyn
Some small areas in the district are still without power and telephone lines.

ENDS

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