A “short, sharp, bloody hard” Waitangi Day tornado has damaged at least four houses in a West Coast town.
Emergency services have been called to help residents on Monday at about 1am in Cobden, near Greymouth.
Lindsay Thomas heard a quick gust of wind coming around midnight. When he went outside his property, he found “carnage everywhere”.
“A trampoline went over the house, past my truck and ended up a block away from where we are,” he said.
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Thomas has been relocating from Christchurch in the past three weeks to his holiday home in Cobden.
The community had been supportive nonetheless, offering materials to fix the house that has been hit by the small tornado.
“There were about 18 guys here and all up and down the roof, screwing things down and fixing things up for us. Yeah, they are bloody good actually,” Thomas said.
The roof of the house was damaged, and the barbecue took off from the deck overnight.
Now that fire and police had helped “make things watertight”, Thomas had to deal with the insurance company.
Fire and Emergency spokesperson Alex Norris, who was at the scene earlier on Monday, said a roof had been lifted off a house and windows had blown in on at least four properties.
No-one was injured.
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Tornados were uncommon in the area, but it was similar to what local fire crews had dealt with before, he said.
Fire crews from Cobden and Greymouth attended the scene just after midnight and were there just before 2am in the morning.
Norris said repair services and builders would have to come and assess the damage to windows and roofs.
Grey District Council mayor Tania Gibson said Waitangi Day celebrations were cancelled in Greymouth because of the wild weather.
“One house in particular that was the worst hit lost the roof. I have been talking to that resident this morning, she said.
“He seemed wrapped around in help from the community and he has gone to his parents down the road. He is getting what he needs and got help from the fire service and the council,” Gibson said.
A weather warning in the area has since been lifted.
Firefighters were securing windows with plywood and roofs with tarpaulin.
While on the phone to police, a person reported their neighbour’s roof had come off, a police spokesperson said.
Police also found a roof at a school partially lifted, they said.
The tornado comes after heavy rain caused slips and flooding in Tasman district and the West Coast on Sunday.
State Highway 6 in Westland was initially closed from Ross to Haast on Sunday afternoon because of slips and fallen trees. One lane has reopened with a 30kph speed restriction in place.
SH6 from Ross to Hokitika had surface flooding, but was opened with caution.
Power was lost to some areas of South Westland due to a fallen tree at Lake Mapourika. The Westpower website said areas in Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier South were affected.
West Coast Emergency Management advised on their website that cellphone tower batteries would run out overnight.
“This will mean that there will be no cellphone coverage or Internet in the affected areas of South Westland until power is restored,” it said.
Westpower said all power was restored by 4.35pm Monday.
Motorists were encouraged to visit the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner website before they travel for updates.