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Whenuapai hit hard by tornado

Thursday 06 Dec 2012 6:15p.m.

'I just stood there and screamed'

Many communities across Auckland are counting a heavy cost after today's tornado.

The trail of destruction crosses State Highway 18 from Hobsonville to Whenupai, the airbase and the village.

But luckily the area had the air force base and expert help at hand. A field refugee centre was established there for those forced out of their homes.

In Whenuapai it seemed every garden was missing a tree, and when those trees came down they brought with them power lines and landed on homes.

In one of the first homes 3 News came to, 82-year-old Irene Hemming was trying to cover a broken window in her living room. She also had a branch crash through her kitchen window.

“I heard the crashing of the glass from the window [...] and I made my escape through the laundry door and I just stood there and screamed,” she told 3 News.

Across the road neighbours worked to free a car and the closer to the waterfront, the more debris there was. Roof sheeting littered the street and a BBQ was left buckled and broken on the road.

Solid mature trees were ripped from the ground like twigs and must have come crashing back to ground.

The intersection of Totara and Waimarie roads was a mess of broken power lines. Vector says at least 1300 customers in Auckland are without power and it's not hard to see the job they will have getting it back on.

When the rain finally stopped, residents of Waimarie Rd started trying to clear the damage. Some like Keith Dodge had returned home to the mess.

He says his property was “a bloody mess”.

“It is, isn't it? It really is. This happens somewhere else, not in your own backyard.”

At time the damage seemed random. One car didn't have anything land on it but ended up in a damaged state just from the wind, resident Les Tokana says.

“There is a couple of dents in it. It's blown the windows out by the looks of it. It's got metal wrapped around it so it must have clipped it going through.”

What used to be a garage had its roof blown next door and its contents strewn across the neighbourhood.

In certain areas you can really see the path of the tornado. It carried a lot of debris with it as well, and you can see pieces of fence, pieces off roofs. There was even a horse buggy that got blown away.

Angela Butler was one of the few at home when the tornado hit. She says trees were lifted like paper in what was a terrifying five minutes. She's still coming to terms with the damage.

“It's trashed. That shed is absolutely trashed - it looks like it's on an angle now.”

But like everyone here in Whenuapai, Ms Butler realises that she was lucky to get away with just damage to property.

3 News

 
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