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Terrified west Auckland residents ducked for cover as a series of violent tornadoes ripped through their neighbourhoods this afternoon leaving a trail of death and destruction.
Witnesses said the tornado caused metal to fly through the air "like shrapnel", snapped large trees in half, and littered the streets of Whenuapai and Hobsonville with debris.
An outbuilding at the Whenuapai Pony Club was flattened by a tornado and hundreds of houses were left uninhabitable. The homeless were taken to Whenuapai Air Base, although many whose houses weren't damaged decided to get out of town anyway.
Hobsonville resident Sharon White said she could not believe her eyes when she saw her trampoline being picked up and flung at her lounge window.
"The hedges were blown over and it picked up my tramp, smashed it into the window, and my swing set also got picked up and smashed two other windows."
Scott Rd resident Lloyd Morris said pieces of corrugated iron had flown through the air like pieces of shrapnel and become embedded in his lawn.
"We've lost roofing tiles and what-not. The chimney pots have all gone The guttering is ripped off and all the trees have been demolished. We seem to have a lot of other people's stuff in our garden.
"There's a big stainless steel tub around the back of the house. I can't pick it up - it's too heavy. I don't know where."
Witness Matt Eade said he did not see the defined funnel shape of a tornado, but the wind was certainly swirling around violently.
"The hardest wind you can imagine was swirling around; it would go one way real fast and then back the other way - it kept changing directions. We were standing away from the windows because we were expecting them to crash in. It was one of those situations where we thought we could get swept away.
Kay Cres resident Tolly Derepa was among residents on Wallingford Way whose houses were left uninhabitable.
"The lounge is really badly damaged, it looked like everything just smashed through the windows and glass flew across the room. the roof is really badly damaged, I don't know how long it's going to hold up and it's leaking everywhere."
Jeff Pilling said his trampoline had been flung about 50m. Around his house was corrugated iron, debris and nearby was a mangled portaloo.
He had fears for a herd of cows which had been in the next door paddock.
Whenuapai resident Suzanne McFadden said the tornado was like a roaring "juggernaut".
"We have no power, it honestly looks like a bomb has gone off in the street.
"I saw it coming across the river, the air went very electric and the sky went black. And then the wind started to whistle."
She said she saw trees coming up the street and then ran to the hall inside for cover.
"We were in the middle of it. It was a roar. "
She said century-old pine trees had been uprooted, one even crashing through her neighbour's garage - crushing a van inside.
Because road access was blocked, residents were concerned for the wellbeing of their children at nearby Whenuapai School.
"We can't get out and nobody can get in, there are live power lines on the road. People who are getting home now are walking miles just to get home.
"This was like a juggernaut roaring through here. Everyone is really shaken up."
Matt Eade said he was in his lounge when the tornado hit.
"The wind picked up real fast and then it rained real hard. The hardest wind you can imagine was swirling around; it would go one way real fast and then back the other way - it kept changing directions. We were standing away from the windows because we were expecting them to crash in.
"I thought it was one of those situations where we thought we could get swept away."
Power and was off at his house and firefighters had asked if he wanted to evacuate.
Whenuapai resident Jordan Carter said high winds had hit his house.
The fence had been blown down, trees were uprooted and the of the spa pool was gone, he said.