31 Mar 2013

Hokitika family terrified by tornado

8:52 pm on 31 March 2013

A family was left terrified and their hotel damaged after a tornado swept through their street in Hokitika on the West Coast on Sunday.

The owner of the Railway Hotel, Peter Sharpe, says he was in the bar when it struck just before 1pm, followed by banging and crashing.

Mr Sharpe says his neighbour's rollerdoor smashed into the hotel and his roof flew into the council building.

He says it was very scary and windows were breaking with glass everywhere.

Mr Sharpe ran upstairs to find his wife and daughter screaming and hysterical as debris flew past the window.

He says he did not think anyone was injured, despite people sitting outside at the nearby Clock Tower Cafe as iron was ripped off rooves.

A New World supermarket worker Missy Van Dissel says shoppers and staff were mesmerised as it swept throught the carpark.

"There was a man and two little girls and they'd just walked out of the supermarket and they got caught right in the middle of it and he had to grab both of them, I thought they were going to get blown away and I just huddled up into one of the corners and I was quite scared for them."

Ms Van Dissel says iron roofing from a plumbing and gas fitting company flew across the road, missing the supermarket and landing in a tree.