Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Plymouth residents speak of tornado terror, New Zealand - 19th June 2011

New Plymouth residents have spoken of their terror after tornadoes ripped through the city, tearing roofs of buildings, shattering windows and cutting power.

Fire Services have confirmed there were two tornadoes, and a possible third. They went through the city at about 4:20am.

One hit the city centre, causing substantial damage to businesses. The other hit a hotel and St Mary's Church Hall on Vivian St, a few blocks from the CBD, breaking roof tiles and ripping up a tree.

Canon pastor Bill Marsh said thankfully it is all repairable.

The Fire Service said there may have been another tornado in the nearby town of Bell Block, where there has been more damage to buildings.

Emergency services have been inspecting damage around the city, and say business owners in the affected area should also check their properties.

Power was out in the city around Lemon Street, Leach Street and parts of Coronation Ave.

Fire Communications Shift Manager Linda Beets said there is a trail of destruction between State Highway 3 and Carrington Street.

Fire trucks were called in from Inglewood, Oakura and Waitara to inspect damage around the city, but the Fire Service told ONE News it was "on top of things".

There have been no reports of injuries, and no local state of emergency has been declared as a result of the tornadoes.

A number of houses in the path of the tornadoes were moved off their foundations.

Valerie Robertson lives on one of the worst hit streets, Ridge Lane, and said the experience was traumatic.

"I heard a tremendous noise and lots of breaking glass, and I bounded out of bed and found that my front windows had gone and my side of the house was quite damaged," said Robertson.

"I've got broken glass on both sides of the door and my roof's gone." Read More