Uprooted trees and storm debris are scattered around the
Auckland suburb of Hobsonville in the aftermath of the
tornado. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
The police cordon has been lifting, allowing residents
back into the worst-damaged neighbourhoods in Hobsonville after
yesterday's deadly storms.
People returning to the 1km area, which has been restricted
since the tornadoes struck soon after noon yesterday, are
being warned to take "extreme care when checking their
About 250 people were left homeless and thousands of homes
were without power after the violent storms, which are
estimated to have caused $11 million worth of damage.
Prime Minister John Key, touring the area today, said the
loss of life could have been far greater.
"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 midwest of America, but not in Hobsonville,'' Mr Key
"I think we'll take a step back and retrace our steps and ask
the obvious questions: What was in place in terms of weather
forecasting? Did we miss anything? What does that mean in
terms of people on the workplace and the likes?
"I suspect in the end it will come down to - as it does in
America which is much more prone to these - that they're a
sort of random act of nature.''
The clean-up continues this evening as roads are re-opened
and electricity restored to large areas without power more
than 24 hours.
Vector's high voltage network is expected to be switched back
on tonight, though 470 customers were still without power at
The company said some of those homes would have electricity
tonight and repairs to its low voltage network were "ahead of
"Vector will have a more definitive idea of restoration times
by tomorrow,'' it said in a statement.
"When the [low voltage] network is relivened, Vector is then
in a position to begin looking at customers' service lines to
ensure they are safe and compliant. Once the service lines
are safe, properties can begin to be restored.''
The three men killed on a construction site when the tornado
ripped through Whenuapai and Hobsonville were named as Tom
Stowers, 42, Keith Langford, 60, and Brendon Johnson, 22.
The men, from Hawkins Construction and subcontractors Vuksich
and Borich Civil Engineering, were crushed by a large
concrete slab as they took shelter from the tornado.
Four other men working on the building site were
hospitalised; one remains in a stable condition and three
have been released, the company said tonight.
"This has been a terrible tragedy for the families of those
killed and injured and everyone involved in the project is
deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened,'' Hawkins
Construction general manager Dan Ashby said.
The company has offered support to others in the area
affected by the tornado.
Auckland Council programme adviser Jan Ziegler-Peri said 66
people had registered with the Massey Leisure Centre recovery
Work and Income has arranged for people who have been
displaced to stay in motels for up to two nights.
Some West Aucklanders affected by the tornado said they felt
they were not prepared for the emergency.
Wamairie Rd resident Rhys Hogg said: "We're lucky we've got
gas cookers. And the water's still on, but if the water was
off we'd be in trouble.''
The family had been caught without an emergency kit, but that
was certainly something they were "going to get''.
"It makes you think about, if it was worse, what could've
Just up the street, Kate Dunn had similar concerns.
"[We were] not as prepared as I would have thought. We've got
lots of food but it wasn't until later that we got out a gas
cooker and one of the attachments was missing that made us
aware that we probably need to be a bit more prepared than we
- By Kieran Campbell, Lucy Bennett and Matthew Theunissen
By the numbers
- 250 people left homeless
- Thousands of homes without power; 470 still in the dark
- $11 million worth of damage
- 1km zone cordoned off for more than 24 hours
- 510 homes at Whenuapai and Hobsonville assessed for
- 22 homes found to have ``major damage``
- Five dogs and two cats being cared for at the council's
West Auckland Animal Shelter
Where to get help
- Massey Leisure Centre recovery centre to reopen at 10am
- Victory Church Recovery Centre will not reopen
- Residents requiring welfare assistance can report to the
Wiseley Rd and Clark St incident control point
- The Government helpline can be reached on 0800 779 997