SEVERE weather across the Northern Rivers has left some 18,000 homes across the Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore areas without power.
Despite intense efforts by Essential Energy crews yesterday, the gale force winds engendered by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald caused power outages to skyrocket during the day.
At 9am there were some 6000 households without power, but by 3.30pm the number had hit 18,000, even as crews restored power to some homes.
"The wind hasn't been kind to us - even though we've got some areas back on, other areas have gone off," Essential Energy spokeswoman Rachel Hussell said yesterday.
Oswald's centre moved slowly south over the region yesterday.
With gusts of up to 124kmh recorded at Byron Bay by the Bureau of Meteorology at 2.24pm yesterday, the coast and surrounding areas received a battering.
Early yesterday 2000 homes lost power at Broken Head after severe gusts caused a powerline to come down near Suffolk Park.
In the Lismore, Byron and Ballina areas 2700 customers in Ewingsdale were without supply, more than 1300 in Lennox Head, more than 2200 across Coraki, Woodburn area, and Wardell and a large numbers around Lismore, including 150 in Dunoon.
"We've also had major powerlines feeding into the Tweed affected."
In the Tweed area 1000 households were without supply in Cudgen, 1750 in Hastings Point, 1800 in Bilambil Heights, 2300 around Tweed Heads and 400 in Murwillumbah and Tumbulgum along with numerous small pockets of outages throughout the area.
Essential Energy has crews working to restore supply where it is safe to do so, however the majority of homes will not have their power restored until the end of today or longer, because of continuing extreme weather and limited access for crews because of rising creek and river levels and boggy ground.
Much of the damage has been attributed to debris - mainly tree branches in power lines as a result of the high winds - with further reports of lines down in some areas.
North-easterly winds reaching 75kmh early this morning are expected to moderate and drop to around 35kmh by late afternoon.
Residents are advised to stay indoors, clear of powerlines, and call Essential Energy on 132 080 to report any power issues.