Rubberneckers stay away, mayor warns
Auckland mayor Len Brown (file)
Aucklanders hoping to ogle the damage caused by a tornado that ripped through the city's western suburbs are being told to stay away.
A thunderstorm with gales and three tornadoes hit Hobsonville and Whenuapai shortly after midday yesterday, killing three men at a construction site who were hit by falling concrete slabs, and injuring seven others.
The winds lifted roofs and hurled debris through windows, and badly damaged power poles and transformers, causing an estimated $11 million in damage.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown says residents have been left hugely traumatised.
"We've got to be thankful... It could have been a lot, lot worse," he told Radio New Zealand.
While there's an "immense human interest" for outsiders, he says the community needs to be given space to grieve and rebuild their lives.
"I really want to encourage people to show respect to the families who have becomes victims of this. I don't want to see rubberneckers out there today."
He said those wanting to help could do so via the Auckland Council or Civil Defence.
"We need help but we do not need people unnecessarily around the community today."
Teams of building inspectors are assessing the last of the damaged homes in the area, while contractors are removing debris to keep roads through the area clear.
Lines company Vector restored power to 700 properties overnight, with a further 635 still without electricity this morning.
Civil Defence spokesman Clive Manly said power would not be restored to some properties until they were guaranteed to be safe and not at risk of fire.