Tornado terror: 'I felt like I was going to get sucked out of my home'

By Kiri Gillespie, Melanie Camoin -
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Local Wendy Dudek assessed the damages in her property after a 100-year-old pine tree fell down onto her property.
Local Wendy Dudek assessed the damages in her property after a 100-year-old pine tree fell down onto her property.

"I tried to open the door to see what was going on but felt like I was going to get sucked out."

Wendy Dudek was terrified after a mini tornado swept through Waikino in the Karangahake Gorge on Monday night, saying she felt like she was going to be pulled out of her home.

The tornado swept through Old Waitekauri Rd, leaving extensive damage to vegetation and closing the road.

About 8pm, Mrs Dudek noticed strong gusts of wind blowing outside her property.
She said she was looking through the window, terrified, and realised it was a mini tornado.

"Things were flying around everywhere. One of my gas heaters flew out and landed a few meters down in the paddock," she said.

The next morning, Mrs Dudek and her husband Dave realised the extent of the damage.

"Look at the mess", Wendy said.

"It is like a war zone."

A "huge" pine tree from next door collapsed onto the Dudek's property, taking with it eight other trees and crashing on to the goat house.

The two pet goats, Dolcy and Earmuff, miraculously escaped after the pine tree collapsed onto their goat house.

"The goat house is underneath the entangled trees, it is bright red but you cannot even see it here.

"I came down this morning and heard bleating."

Mr Dudek worked through the mess with a chainsaw and got the goats out safe and sound.

"It is a miracle," she said.

The Dudeks and their next door neighbours were assessing the damage with the insurance company.

Yesterday, local farmer Marty Bougen was clearing up a large pine tree that fell on the road, closing it to traffic.

"We are trying to get the road back to safety and get the tree out of the road," he said.
Several locals, such as Graham Rogers, offered help cleaning up.

"I have been living here since 1995 and this is the first one I have really seen in this area," he said. A mini tornado was also believed to have swept through Mount Maunganui overnight.

Several small boats were ripped from their ties on Pilot Bay and strewn across the beach and roadside as stormy weather hit.

Mount Maunganui firefighters were called to reports of "boats flying around" at 8.15pm, said senior firefighter Darren Jones.

"We sort of looked at each other when we heard 'boats flying around'," he said.

Catamarans and dingys were flipped and damaged in high winds last night along Pilot Bay.  Photo/John Borren
Catamarans and dingys were flipped and damaged in high winds last night along Pilot Bay. Photo/John Borren

"We got down there and the dinghies that were tied up on the beach front had been ripped off and there were a few on the road and a couple of catamarans that had been tipped over.

"It must have been a mini tornado."

Mr Jones said most of the boats seemed okay, but the hull of one of the catamarans had snapped and one of the dinghies had a puncture hole in its bottom.

Firefighters collected the vessels and placed them upside down on the beach to prevent any more wind from lifting them again.

Nevan Lancaster, who owns vessel hirage business Mount Cat and Yaks at Pilot Bay, said that part of the beach had become more dangerous since the introduction of wooden boat stands, allowing boats to be easily lifted up by wind.

"They could take out a pedestrian or a car. That's my concern. These can be really dangerous," Mr Lancaster said.

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"Next time it can be a family walking by and boom, a boat takes out a kid."

Metservice forecaster Allister Gorman said the thunderstorm conditions on Monday night were perfect for small tornado.

"We have the threat of small tornadoes out for a large part of the North Island that night. It can be hard to pin point exactly where one might happen."

Mr Gorman said Mount Maunganui sometimes appeared to be the place to be for movements.

"Pretty much what's happening when you get a thunderstorm is you get a very strong movements of air. The development of the cloud itself is drawing air up from the ground ... into the cumulonimbus cloud ... by doing that it tends to make the rotation smaller, speeding it up," Mr Gorman said.

"That's when you start seeing tornadoes and water spouts."

Mr Gorman said there could be many different elements behind the cause of a tornado, but the key ingredient was thunderstorms.

"You can have thunderstorms with no tornado but you can't have tornadoes without thunderstorms," he said.

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