Short power outage creates business turmoil

Service station forecourts were blocked off during the power outage.

A wire failure at a substation at Maungaturoto left around 22,000 people without power on Wednesday morning, May 1.

The impact was felt from Puhoi north to Mangawhai and Te Kopuru, and west to Pouto. As a result, numerous shops, petrol stations and banks closed, medical centres took steps to protect vaccines, traffic lights went down and several schools closed.

A Transpower spokesperson said the wire failure happened ahead of planned maintenance, which was scheduled to take place the following day (Thursday). Power was lost at 9.20am and restored around 11.50am.

While major supermarkets continued to trade using generators, smaller food retail stores faced the issue of keeping food cold. Claire and Brad Walker were forced to close their Matakana Four Square store.

“We had to close because our checkouts ran out of juice and we couldn’t open and close them, and it’s too hard with all the chilled products and people coming in and out,” they said.

Registered nurses Rachel Moimoi, left, and Emma Robertson pack vaccines into chilly bins for transfer to Orewa.

Warkworth Medical Centre suspended its vaccination programme for the day and was forced to transfer “tens of thousands of dollars” worth of vaccines by car to a pharmacy in Orewa. Practice manager Sara Lewis said refrigerated vaccines are good for about four hours once power is cut. The medical centre decided to move its stock to Orewa as a precaution.

Doctors at the centre were able to continue with patient consultations, but had no access to patient medical records or test results. ACC claims’ paperwork and prescriptions were handled manually with pen and paper. Minor surgery was rescheduled at the Kowhai Surgery.

Shop assistant Alice Baluyut continued to work in almost total darkness at Geoff’s Emporium, but other stores such as Noel Leeming and Fade Room Barber Shop closed completely. “I can’t work at all in this light as I can’t see what I am doing,” barber John Abraham said.

Keenan Maro and Annie Zhong, owners of Ginger Café, had to close and were frustrated that a similar outage happened just a couple of weeks ago.

“We’ve lost quite a bit of money,” Annie said.

Some staff tried to look on the bright side. Eko clothes and furniture store assistant Margaret Grogan used the time to take a stroll down Queen Street. “It was a good opportunity to be out in the sunshine and have a look around,” she said.

Staff at Warkworth Vets suspended animal operations and were unable to warm heat packs in the microwave for the animals.

Several motorists were stranded at service stations with not enough fuel to go north or south. When the power was restored, a round of “hurrahs” echoed around the forecourt of the BP station on State Highway 1.

Police put officers on points duty at some intersections in Warkworth and had to escort a man in custody to Orewa to be interviewed with electronic recording. Otherwise, they said the power outage had caused no serious issues.

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