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West Auckland tornado: Inside the cordon

Friday 7 Dec 2012 2:31 p.m.

See the photo gallery

Cranes are this afternoon working to remove trees that have blown during yesterday’s tornado in west Auckland.

3 News travelled inside the Hobsonville cordon with Merton St residents Richy and Kathryn Farrow, to witness first hand the extent of the damage.

"We heard the news by Twitter that there had been a tornado in Hobsonville, and it's quite a small place so we were pretty sure that either us or some people that we knew would have been affected so we raced in, grabbed some stuff, and literally just packed some bags and then we were evacuated last night," Kathryn said. Most properties on that street have trees which had fallen either in the front or backyard. A garden shed had been obliterated and a washing line uprooted.

Two doors down the roof of a garage was flapping away in the wind, while across the road a vacant house had several windows blown out. Hoardings had been erected to protect these windows but to no avail as some of these had also blown off. A large tree sat in the backyard, toppled by the force of yesterday's winds.

Branches and debris from properties within the cordon have been removed and most of Clark Rd is pretty clear. Debris has been strewn around on Merton and Wallingford Streets and windows have been blown out.

Earlier this morning, Civil Defence said it would not allow residents to return to their homes until they had been inspected and deemed safe. A large number are still without power.

Most houses have roofs which are either partially or completely missing and it is inside this cordon where between 100 and 150 homes were so badly damaged they were deemed uninhabitable.

Labour Party leader David Shearer, MP David Cunliffe and Phil Goff will be touring the cordoned area with the Red Cross this afternoon.

Prime Minister John Key toured the suburb this morning, including the construction site where three men lost their lives, and admits the scale of destruction at Hobsonville took him by surprise.

Police identified the three victims as 22-year-old Brendon Johnson, Tom Stowers, 42, both from Massey, and 60-year-old Keith Langrod from Tuakau.

Mr Key said he is shocked by the storm’s ferociousness.

“The only thing I can say is I’ve never seen anything like this in New Zealand before.

“It’s far more significant than a very bad storm where you have a few trees down – it’s something you might expect to see in the mid-west of America, but not in Hobsonville.”

He says many families will be unable to return to their homes over Christmas and the Government will provide support through Work and Income where necessary.

Four people remain in hospital with extensive injuries from the tornado.

One woman is in North Shore Hospital with a broken pelvis, and although she's alert and responsive, she's likely to remain in hospital until at least tomorrow.

Three men are in Auckland Hospital with injuries to their head and chest.

They're all stable, and there's a chance one of them will be allowed to return home this evening.

The Government helpline for people affected by yesterday’s weather in Hobsonville and Whenuapai - 0800 77 9997.

3 News

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