Around 20,000 residents in the Gisborne district are still without power after a fatal light plane crash caused a major power outage yesterday. The outage has forced most retailers to close, but authorities say they expect power to be restored this evening.
With the lights out in Gisborne, communication is key and the phone charging booths at the council are packed to the brim.
Gisborne District Council Intern says, “Its' been pretty surprising how many people have been coming in we've got whānau who are bringing in eight phones at a time, people asking to charge their laptops we've got someone wanting to charge their flashlight so it's pretty surprising but it's been good.”
Local resident Erana Gibson-Ruri, “So that's the biggest thing trying to keep up with what's happening with the power for starters from the GDC and not being able to get onto FB to see that so to sum it up really frustrating”
With a generator installed at the gas stations, they have now tripled the amount of people they would normally see in a day.
BP Service Station Supervisor Nick Siata says, “It’s been ridiculously busy we opened at 6am there were about two cars on every pump and it just hasn't stopped the whole time.”
The outage was caused when a plane crashed into high voltage power lines north of Wairoa killing both its occupants.
“It's not hard living without no power when people have actually lost somebody it will be hard to be that family in a situation like this,” says local Helaina Makiri.
What's meant to be a busy time of year is like a retail ghost town.
Gisborne mayor Meng Foon says, “This has really hit businesses hard because they are unable to open their doors at the busiest time of year just before Christmas and the New Year.”
Power is likely to be restored early evening but there is still more work to be done.
Eastland Group General Manager Brent Stewart says, “To restore the security of supply to the region we actually have to do some work on the second circuit that supplies the area and to do that were going to probably have to have another outage of supply to the area.”
That is likely to happen over the next few days with the outage set to last for 8-10 hours, but for tonight authorities warn to plan for another night without power.