Air Force base houses homeless

The Air Force base in Whenuapai has become a refugee centre for about 250 people whose homes were hit by yesterday's tornado and the emergency service crews who came to their aid.

The majority of those affected were defence force staff.

Family and friends on the base and in the neighbouring areas have accommodated those whose homes are without power, have had their roofs lifted off or been crushed by trees.

"We have a number of defence personnel who are occupants of houses that have been damaged near the Whenuapai air base, they have been relocated to the base where they are being treated," the base's groups captain Kevin McEvoy said.

A reconciliation process was set up at the base, which reunites any dispersed families and ensures they have accommodation for the evening. 

By late yesterday, 80 families had been placed but more were expected to arrive.

"We are anticipating, in the coming days, the numbers to increase," McEvoy said.

The base opened its facilities to the emergency services who had been working throughout the day.

"Our messing facilities are being used to feed emergency support agencies as well as anyone that is displaced."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown was grateful for the swift hospitality offered by the defence force.

"For the families that have now been made homeless I would like to acknowledge the Air Force for immediately making Whenuapai available."

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