25 Jun 2021

Scale of repair work on tornado-hit properties sign of impressive community spirit - PM

1:27 pm on 25 June 2021

The amount of repair work already underway shows the strong community spirit in tornado-hit Papatoetoe, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Ardern has walked along one of the streets in Papatoetoe that suffered the worst impact from the tornado that hit the suburb last Saturday morning.

She has also visited the Papatoetoe Fire Station where she met Auckland Council and Emergency Management staff, as well as first responders to the emergency.

Some accompanied the prime minister as she walked along Hayward Road where the tornado that hit around 8.30am caused substantial damage to many houses.

House damaged by tornado on Hayward Road in Papatoetoe, Auckland.

Workers repair damage on a house in Hayward Road in Papatoetoe. Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

At least 62 houses have been declared uninhabitable.

A worker was killed when the tornado struck a freight container hub in Wiri Station Road.

Mechanic Janesh Prasad was carrying out repairs when the tornado swept him up and he struck a container.

Ardern said today it was her first opportunity to see the devastation that had been caused, however, she is impressed with how much repair work is underway.

"That really comes down to the efforts of the community, first responders" as well as friends and family, she told media at a stand-up briefing.

A discretionary fund has been set up and she has told Auckland Mayor Phil Goff who accompanied her on the inspection that the government is willing to top it up.

She said as she walked around she could see the red and yellow stickers on homes, meaning they could not be occupied.

She said support was being given to help these families to try and find alternative accommodation with the aim of just one move.

Goff said a discretionary fund has $200,000 with nine applications so far and 17 in the pipeline. People who had no insurance could apply to it, he said.

The scheme is flexible, but he would not be asking government for more money unless it was needed.

"It's about ensuring nobody is falling through the cracks that we need to provide accommodation to..."

Ardern said it was possible that people might have their properties insured but not their contents and she expressed hope there could be some help in that situation.

Goff said 93 people are in emergency accommodation at present and from next week the council would be looking at longer term accommodation for those who faced being out of their homes during months of repair work.

He praised some insurance companies which have waived the $5000 excess for property owners.

"That's the kind of community spirit we would like to see across the board."

The suburb had sustained millions of dollars in damage, he said.

"This community has shown a remarkable amount of resilience and I applaud them for that," he said.

While residents were worried about the security of their homes, he has not heard of any reports of looting.

Goff criticised developers who had moved in to try and buy damaged properties. He said they were being "insensitive".

Last Sunday the acting Minister for Emergency Management Kris Faafoi announced that the government was contributing $100,000 to support communities affected by the disaster.

House damaged by tornado on Hayward Road in Papatoetoe, Auckland.

A house in Hayward Road that was damaged by the tornado. Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

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