8 Dec 2012

No going home yet for 100 tornado-hit residents

7:30 pm on 8 December 2012

About 100 West Auckland residents remain out of their homes on Saturday night because their tornado-damaged properties are still too unsafe to live in.

The tornado struck on Thursday, killing three building workers, putting seven other people in hospital and wreaking havoc throughout the suburbs of Hobsonville and Whenuapai.

The clean-up has been in full swing, with dozens of contractors brought in to remove debris and clear roads of fallen trees.

Many Hobsonville residents of the area around Wallingford Way and Buckley Avenue returned on Saturday morning to assess the damage. Some were seeing their homes for the first time since the storm.

One resident, Mel Wilson, says she has been shocked by the extent of the damage but the best thing is seeing everyone pitching in and getting the mess cleaned up.

Civil Defence has put some displaced people up in motels while others are being supported by the Defence Force.

Some cordons back up to block sightseers

Cordons around the worst affected areas were lifted on Friday night, but some were installed again on Saturday to deter rubberneckers from getting in the way.

Defence personnel are on guard at all street entrances. Only residents and those on official business are allowed into the zone.

The lines company Vector has had to replace entire sets of power poles in some areas, after the 140km/h winds snapped them in half.

Vector says electricity was restored to nearly 300 houses overnight on Friday night. On Saturday morning 177 houses were still without power.

A spokesperson says that even when power is restored to all areas, it will still not be safe to reconnect until properties are made watertight.

Helpers on stand-by

Civil Defence controllor Clive Manly says contractors are ready to respond to any urgent work the residents need done.

Tarpaulin suppliers are also on standby to temporarily cover any homes that need it to prevent further damage.

The Auckland Council says 22 of the 500-plus houses assessed in Hobsonville and Whenuapai have major damage and several more have minor damage.