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Workers were out at first light today cleaning up and repairing the damage from a 200km/h tornado which killed one man and left 14 others in hospital.
The twister hit Albany, about 15km north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, just before 3pm, ripping roofs off houses and commercial buildings in the suburb's commercial centre, uprooting trees and turning cars and a campervan on their sides.
The Fire Service had responded to 65 events late yesterday, working to secure loose debris and patching up damaged roofs with tarpaulins.
The Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Coordination Centre said it has now transitioned from the response to the recovery phase.
Commercial and residential damage
Civil Defence today said four commercial properties and 23 residential properties have been damaged - 20 of them in Roseberry Avenue, Birkenhead, including one residential property that has been declared uninhabitable.
Emergency accommodation had been provided overnight at the North Shore Event Centre, however Civil Defence spokeswoman Kiri Maxwell said no one stayed the night at the stadium.
The North Shore Event centre Welfare Centre emergency welfare centre is now closed, but anyone requiring welfare assistance can still call 0800 463 010.
Checks on Albany Mega Centre
The Albany Mega Centre and Westfield mall are cordoned off this morning as surveyors check to see if buildings are safe so staff and shoppers can return.
Severely damaged cars are still dotted around the carpark where they were left in the wake of yesterday's tornado.
Shop staff have turned up for work this morning but are still waiting for the shopping centres to open for business. A meeting of shop owners is due to take place at 11am.
Cordons remain in place around Westfield Mall and parts of the Albany Mega Centre. No decision has yet been made on when the mall will reopen.
The director of the Westfield New Zealand, Justin Lynch, said structural checks are being undertaken after the building suffered damage in the tornado.
"We have been working closely with the local authorities to ensure the centre and surrounding environs are suitable for public access."
Civil Defence controller Clive Manley says heavy machinery will be required to make the shops safe, so recommended people stay away.
He said building inspectors are continuing to assess the damage to commercial and residential properties.
"We are working with engineers and police to check all the Albany Mega Centre commercial buildings. We will open these up to the public over the next couple of hours in incremental phases. Public safety is our number one priority."
"The biggest challenge is really just making sure all the loose debris and stuff that's lying about is picked up and everything is made safe, and obviously getting the whole Mega Centre back going again so business can resume again quickly."
Pak 'n Save in Albany is unlikely to reopen today with Foodstuffs saying the store has suffered some damage to the roof. Owner Paul Blackwell said structurally the supermarket is sound but reopening depends on the police cordon being lifted.
Police report 55 cars remain stranded in the area and owners can retrieve them at the Police Command Vehicle centre set up at the Albany PlaceMakers or by calling the North Shore Policing Centre on 09 4775000 to leave their name and contact details.
Meanwhile North Harbour Stadium, which is right next to the Albany Mega Centre, has escaped unscathed, stadium chief executive Craig Goodall said.
The Civil Defence has issued the following advise on what people should do in a tornado:
**Tornadoes are rare in Auckland, high winds are not.
**When high winds are forecast make sure everything on your property is fastened down as best you can.
**Boaties secure moorings.
**Make sure you have an Emergency Survival Kit in your home and an Emergency Plan for your family. Find out more information at www.getthru.govt.nz
**If you see a tornado, take shelter indoors if possible - basements are obviously safest, failing that downstairs rooms - preferably those with no windows. Stay in the centre of the room - get the maximum number of walls between you and the outside.
**If you're outside, lie down low in a low lying area or a ditch and protect your head with your arms.
**If you're in a car and see a tornado coming, get out and shelter in a safe place or on low ground. Do not shelter under your car or try and outrun a tornado in your car.