Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Tornado road like ghost town

In Wallingford Way, Hobsonville, hundreds of windows remain boarded up and roofs are covered with tarpaulins or tied down with ropes.  Photo / Chris Gorman
In Wallingford Way, Hobsonville, hundreds of windows remain boarded up and roofs are covered with tarpaulins or tied down with ropes. Photo / Chris Gorman

Most of the debris has been cleared and repairs have begun, but residents of a tornado-ravaged Auckland street have long gone.

Wallingford Way in Hobsonville was hit hard when a powerful twister ripped through West Auckland on December 6.

Three men were killed when a concrete slab came down at a construction site in the area and many houses suffered damage, in some cases irreparable.

Yesterday, the Insurance Council revealed the costs arising from damage in the Whenuapai and Hobsonville areas had reached $6.5 million.

Chief executive Tim Grafton said most of the damage, about $4.4 million, was to homes and contents. Commercial property damage accounted for a further $1.4 million.

"These costs may move up slightly when all claims are finally settled," he said. "The insurance damage caused by this tornado is comparable to the twister that wreaked havoc on the North Shore in May 2011 which cost over $6 million."

When the Herald visited Wallingford Way after the tornado struck, residents - mostly staff living in Defence Force housing - were picking up the pieces and packing up.

Yesterday, those residents were gone, their homes abandoned and the street resembling a ghost town. Emergency tape still in place to keep people out of unstable houses flapped noisily in the breeze - the only sound on the street.

Water and power have been cut to most houses in the street, hundreds of windows remain boarded over and roofs are covered with tarpaulins or tied down with ropes. Lawns are overgrown and weeds rampant.

Most houses have been emptied of furniture, but several still look lived-in despite the emergency tape marked "danger" across the front doors.

Garages remain without roofs, and fences ripped out in the tornado's fury have not been replaced.

Some houses are under repair, with new windows fitted and building materials stockpiled ready for construction. But a closer look shows the full extent of the damage, including holes in walls, missing spouting and chunks of roof and cladding missing.

Most of the personnel living in Defence Force houses with their families were moved soon after the tornado struck.

In December, they told the Herald that it was likely most of the houses would be demolished.

Read more: Four-bed home claim fails to add up

- NZ Herald

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