A massive clean-up is set to continue today along the path of the wild twister whose 170km/h speeds left a trail of destruction through Mount Maunganui.

It exploded trees, ripped apart roofs, downed power lines and sent trampolines through windows and crashing through roofs.

The tornado hit land at Clyde St about 8.45pm on Thursday and tore a trail all the way to Te Maunga and Baypark Stadium.

Neighbours yesterday pitched in to help those unlucky enough to live along the path of the tornado.


Links Ave resident Adelle Fleming told Bay of Plenty Times Weekend a 3m by 5m garden shed had landed on her fence as the tornado passed.

"It's been absolutely trashed. It's a mess," she said.

"It's caved in my fence and I can't get out of my driveway.

Arbor Care managing director John Meehan said the tail of the tornado was less than 20m wide but it packed a huge punch.

Teams of arborists were busy making damaged trees safe as part of a huge clean-up. Mr Meehan said the wind vane at Mount Manganui Intermediate clocked the tornado's speed at 173km/h. Some trees were blown apart, with several on the Omanu Golf Course looking like a giant mulcher had gone straight over the top of them.

Contractor Downers worked until 3.30am yesterday dealing with large debris such as roofing iron, while Higgins Contractors were busy until 2.30am cleaning debris off roads.

Emergency services worked until 1.15am to check properties and make sure people were safe. As a precautionary measure, Club Mount Maunganui was kept open as a welfare centre until 1am.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said the cost of the tornado would be substantial. One of the biggest bills would be for the three enormous metal sheets that were ripped off Bay Park stadium and hurled on to the road and neighbouring paddocks.


Mr Crosby credited council contractors and staff for responding quickly to the emergency and working through the night.

He was also impressed with the pace of the clean-up at Links Ave and Lodge Ave and how the community rallied around.

"I went and spoke to some of the residents and everyone was chipping in and lending a hand. The community support going on was great with neighbours, relatives and friends helping each other."

Mr Crosby said power cuts created problems for the Te Maunga sewage treatment station but it was back on line before the impact could be felt on the community.

Engineers would be back at Baypark stadium next week doing further structural assessments, Mr Crosby said.

Bay Venues chief executive Gary Dawson said ASB Baypark Stadium had lost 10 to 15 per cent of its grandstand roof but that the cost of the damage was not known.

Mr Dawson said he was waiting on a preliminary report on the damage, which would include an initial insurance assessment and a structural engineer's preliminary findings. "I would love to tell you how much it's going to cost to do the repairs but we just don't know at this stage until we have a full structural engineer's report."

Mr Dawson said despite the damage no planned up-and-coming events would be disrupted, including Otumoetai College's school ball this weekend,

At least five business premises on one side of Owens Place, including Liquorland and Animates, also sustained damage.

Liquorland Bayfair manager John Campbell said he closed the store for most of yesterday because of extensive flooding after part of the roofing was ripped off and a piece of flying debris pierced what was left.

Next door, Bayfair TAB duty manager Liam St Clair said the building did not suffer any damage but a piece of roofing iron went through his car windscreen.

"It was pretty fierce with lots of crunching noises and tree debris flying around. The noise was incredibly loud, it sounded like a jet plane going through here," he said.

Further down the road at Animates Bayfair, manager Craig Olsen said the business lost lights, a big downpipe and half the flashings at the top of the premises, while the suspension ceiling had been pulled up in a couple of places.

Mr Olsen said there were also a couple of big holes in the wall on the outside of the building, which showed how forceful the impact of flying debris had been.

"It's a little hard to say how much the building repairs will cost. It could be as much as $10,000 but our landlord has insurance," he said. "It was a crazy night. We are so lucky the damage wasn't far worse."

At the end of the street, Watts and Hughes Construction's tenant OnGas ended up with a large mountain of twisted metal framing and corrugated iron in its front yard, after a large shed from the former Old Carter Building Supplies site was uprooted during the storm.

OnGas manager Bill Scott said despite the debris it was " business as normal" after a small access path was cleared for vehicles to get in and out of the site.

A large crane would be needed to remove the huge pile of twisted metal, he said.

Watts and Hughes Construction, RS Automotives and the Ministry of Social Development also suffered minor damage.