'You could hear it coming like a train' (+photos)

By Sam Boyer

It came in the night and tore its way through a Papamoa neighbourhood like a train. Residents talk to Sam Boyer after Monday night's twister damaged homes.

Papamoa Beach residents found a scene of domestic destruction after a night-time tornado tore through their quiet street "like a train".

The twister ripped through Longview Drive, near Papamoa College, about 8.30pm on Monday night, lifting roof tiles, breaking fences and snapping trees.

Fire crews from Papamoa, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga were called to the scene and spent more than two hours helping collect roof tiles and cover roofs with tarpaulins.

A sharp piece of wood smashed through Ray Anderson's kitchen window in the exact spot where his daughter had been making a cup of tea only moments before. The piece of wood had been staked into the ground as part of a For Sale sign on a neighbour's front lawn more than 40m away.<inline type="photogallery" id="12555" align="outside" embed="no" />

"The daughter had just made a cup of tea and went through to the [next] room. If she'd been standing there it would have gone straight through her," he said. "[Then] it was over, in a matter of seconds."

His wife, Joy Anderson, thought their home was the only one on the block with a broken window, but many had suffered worse fates in the sudden storm.

"We were just sitting watching TV. We have our windows open a little bit and the curtains went right up.

"It was incredible. You could hear the noise. It was like a train going. It was just 'Whoosh' - you could hear it coming. It was pretty scary for everyone," she said.

"We were in Papamoa when we had that snowstorm and now we've had a tornado. It's just unreal."

Resident Jo Knell, whose home is for sale, suffered the most visible damage on the street - about half her roof was torn away. She said the twister couldn't have come at a worse time.

"We've got people coming through to look at the house shortly, so guess I'll have to tell them not to bother," she said.

Ms Knell expects to visit her insurance company today about her roof but in the meantime, any drips are being caught in buckets, tins and chilly bins around the house.

Mount Maunganui firefighter Murf Arndell said crews were called out shortly after the tornado ripped through the street.

"The twister was gone but the roofs were a mess. Tiles were laying in gutters and on the ground," he said.

Four fire trucks were called to the scene and crews worked to cover the exposed roofs of people's homes with tarpaulins. Where tiles could be found, fire crews tried to re-attach them.

Jayden Brown, who lived next door to Ms Knell, also had his home damaged in the "epic" tornado. A hole was torn in his roof and his fence was smashed over.

"It was extremely loud. I was on the phone and I was like: 'What is that?' It was like really, really loud thunder - like crazy thunder. I went into the garage and the manhole had blown [out]. I looked through the manhole and I could see the sky," he said.

Mr Brown said he and a neighbour worked until about midnight, checking neighbours' roofs for them and reattaching loose tiles.

Senior firefighter Ren Keepa from the Papamoa volunteer station said: "In total there were nine houses that were affected and probably two or three that were the worst," he said.

The damage was spread from 120 to 144 Longview Drive. There were no injuries reported during the storm.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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