An early morning tornado that ripped through Levin on Friday blocked major highways, closed schools, and tore apart the back half of Ōtaki MP's Terisa Ngobi's office on Oxford St.
Levin residents woke to an apocalyptic scene. Torrential rain and hail fell as darkness lifted, flooding streets that were already strewn with the debris spat out during the twister's tantrum.
The path of destruction suggests it started out at sea near Hokio Beach and scythed a path through the centre of Levin as it headed in the direction of the Tararua Ranges.
There had been reports of minor injuries as a result of breaking glass.
The tornado tore off the back half Ngobi's office and ripped off part of the roof at neighbouring pub O'Malley's Bar and Grill on its path through town shortly after 6am this morning.
Ngobi was about to head to the office when she heard the news. She put on a pair of gumboots and a Swanndri and headed to a meeting at Horowhenua District Council nearby.
"The whole back half of the building is literally gone. You can see the back door to my office," she said.
"Part of the roof has come off, but in comparison to some of the damage we are learning about now ... it can be fixed. I just hope whānau and our kaumātua are safe," she said.
Next door neighbour publican Marty O'Malley said he had worked the late shift and woke to the news. He was grabbing some tarpaulins from his shed before heading into town in an attempt to stop the heavy rain that continued to fall through the morning.
"I'll just heading there now," he said.
Further down the street Levin Discounter Dairy owner Akash Solanki heard the tornado coming. He was at work before 6am and reckoned it hit town about 6.15am. He was behind the counter at the time.
"The wind started blowing all these leaves into the shop. I just heard this noise ... as soon as I came outside it was gone," he said.
"There were trees down and a truck was stuck between them."
The tornado's path was east to west, cutting through the centre of town. There was damage to the west where it came off Lake Horowhenua and onto the cricket grounds at Donnelly Park.
A new steel cricket net over an artificial pitch was picked up and thrown onto the nearby netball courts carpark, where it was found bent and warped.
It crossed Tiro Tiro Rd and whirled through Levin Showgrounds, snapping trees and felling stable blocks and shelters used for the annual AP&I Show.
AP&I association secretary Jill Timms described it as total devastation.
A team of volunteers and neighbouring property owners were on site helping with the clean up.
"It is not as bad as some of the neighbour's houses," he said.
From there the tornado made its way to Levin Adventure Park where it smashed down a line of huge oak trees on the edge of State Highway 1 on Oxford St. The trees were more than 100 years old and were on the HDC notable tree register.
HDC contractors were quickly on the scene, beginning their work in the dark with chainsaws as heavy machinery pushed the chopped debris to the side of the road for further dissection.
Traffic was diverted from the main arterial route. A similar situation hit the other main highway through town, SH57 further east, already closed to north-bound traffic due to road works.
The tornado then continued east from the town centre across Playford Park and through residential properties on Bartholomew Rd on its way to SH57 towards the Tararua Ranges.
Residents on Gladstone Rd east of Levin had reported the loss of pine tree stands and numerous trees, some aged 60 to 70 years, with some blocking driveways.
Horowhenua District Council held an emergency meeting where its Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) team urged people to stay home unless travel was critical.
Streets that were closed to traffic were Oxford St, Cambridge St (from Liverpool to Bath St), Tawa St, Wilton St, Gladstone Rd and Mako Rd.
Schools and kura were closed - St Joseph School, Learning Adventures, Levin School, Horowhenua College, Levin Intermediate and Ōhau School were all shut for the day, as was the town library Te Takeretanga-o-kura-hau-pō .
The CDEM Incident Management Team was been called in to assist emergency services throughout Levin. It was a call to arms for police, Fire and Emergency, St Johns, contractors and arborists.
Water treatment plants at Shannon and Tokomaru are currently offline due to turbidity. Water storage capacity is sufficient, but as a precaution tankers have been activated for Tokomaru.
Powerlines were down through and damage reports came in from Parker Ave, Victoria St, Tawa St, George St, Adkin Ave, Skye St, Cambridge Place and Mako Mako Rd.
Several streets were closed - Oxford St, Cambridge St (from Liverpool to Bath St), Tawa St, Wilton St, Gladstone Rd, Winchester St, Tararua Rd, Parker St, Sterling St.
A traffic management has been put in place for north and southbound SH1 traffic. North is being diverted to Mako Mako Rd – Tiro Tiro Rd – Kawiu Rd. Southbound traffic was diverted through York St – Weraroa Rd – Mako Mako Rd.
Fire and Emergency activated an Urban Search and Rescue team, working alongside HDC's building team to prioritise attention to the affected roads and streets that had been hit hardest.
Palmerston North City Council's Rescue Emergency Support team was assisting. Rangitikei District Council has offered assistance to capture drone footage, to understand the extent of the damage.
Meanwhile - If you have urgent welfare needs please ring council's main number on 06 366 0999, as support is available. Please keep pets and animals sheltered.