Tornado won't kill festive spirit

One week on, Hobsonville clean-up continues

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Wanda Jeffries
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ

RESURRECTION: Wanda Jeffries puts her Christmas tree back together after it was toppled in the tornado.

Geoff Polglase
JOHN SELKIRK/ Fairfax NZ
MOVING BACK: Geoff Polglase outisde his Hobsonville house, which was damaged in the tornado that ripped his community apart.
Hobsonville tornado
JOHN SELKIRK/ Fairfax NZ
PROTECTED: A typical tarpaulin-covered house and wrecked tree.

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Hobsonville's tornado claimed three lives and 22 homes but residents are determined it won't claim Christmas.

A week on from the devastating tornado, yesterday, houses were still being secured and the neighbourhood had banded together to clean up.

Mother Casey Davenport was at home in Kay Cres getting ready to move out of her damaged home.

The tornado ripped off roof tiles and was followed by torrential rain that caused the bulk of the destruction. Piles of carpet could be seen outside several houses along with ruined lounge suites and soft furnishings.

"It's only stuff," Davenport said, "no-one was hurt".

In many ways, the Wallingford Way and Kay Cres area was one of the most able to cope with an event like the tornado, she said.

Many of the houses are Air Force homes so Whenuapai Air Base was available for relief efforts and there was already a considerable community spirit.

Geoff "Polly" Polglase, who like Davenport is in the Air Force, said he was one of the better off.

Many of his windows had exploded inwards leaving beds and couches riddled with shards of glass - no good for his three-year-old and seven-year-old girls.

He said it was nothing compared to what other people had lost.

"You just have to look out the back window and you can see the truck where people have died," he said.

Tom Stowers, Keith Langford and Brendon Johnson were killed when the tornado hit the neighbouring Hobsonville Point School construction site.

Polglase said the storm could have hurt others - he found a piece of roofing iron that had sailed off a distant house and embedded itself so deep under his door jamb it took two men five minutes of concerted wiggling to get it out.

Wanda Jeffries was tearing carpet out of her house and hoped she would be allowed to move her family back in from their temporary home in a local motel.

Her 16-year-old daughter had been home alone when the tornado struck and she had to hide in a cupboard with the family dog when the windows blew in.

"It's only possessions. We've been extremely lucky."

She pulled a bedraggled Christmas tree back into the lounge.

"You don't cancel Christmas, oh no, you definitely don't cancel Christmas," she said.

Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said there were about 200 tarpaulins in use for weather-proofing houses.

There were 73 people in emergency accommodation and 30 homes had yet to be reconnected to the power supply.

The current estimate was $13 million of damage and 22 homes uninhabitable in Hobsonville and Whenuapai.

Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said the volume of calls to their help line and recovery centres was "extremely low".

The numbers of people they were assisting was expected to drop over the weekend as people had time to sort out insurance and other accommodation.

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- Auckland Now

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