Freak NZ tornado to cost millions
Tamara McLean, AAP New Zealand Correspondent
May 4, 2011 – 5:24PM
Damage from a freak tornado that blasted its way through a shopping mall in Auckland is likely to run into tens of millions of dollars.
Clean-up crews spent Wednesday clearing streets of debris and repairing buildings after a violent 200km/h twister swept through the New Zealand city, killing one man and injuring 14 others.
The dead man was Benedict Dacayan, a 37-year-old construction worker who was working to demolish a building in the northern suburb of Albany when the storm swept through about 3pm (1pm AEST) on Tuesday.
The tornado, the most severe to hit New Zealand in several years, overturned cars, uprooted trees and flung roofing iron everywhere.
According to witness accounts, Mr Dacayan had been inside a portable office when he was picked up by the wind and thrown like a rag doll against a concrete wall.
“It came out of nowhere, very, very quickly, no real warning,” said Philip King, a manager at Fletcher Building where Mr Dacayan worked.
Student nurse Sophie Bond said she came across Mr Dacayan lying in a crumpled heap and did everything she could to resuscitate him.
“But it was too late,” she said.
“There was a lot of blood when we rolled him over, we could see he had a very bad head wound,” Ms Bond told Radio New Zealand.
The father-of-two later died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
Mr King said the death had shocked employees.
“It’s traumatic, as you can imagine, and shocking. So everyone’s reasonably subdued today it would be fair to say,” he said.
Another employee suffered a broken leg in the disaster, and a subcontractor was in hospital as a result of his injuries.
Three children escaped without injury when the car they were in flipped with the force of the storm.
The tornado, which reached category two out of five, damaged about 50 homes and businesses along its 5km path of destruction.
Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said the costs were significant.
“It’s still a little early to put a precise figure on the amount of insured loss suffered as a result of the tornado but I’d expect it to be in the tens of millions, given the severity of the event,” he said.
Government minister and local MP Jonathan Coleman surveyed the damage and said it was a miracle just one person died.
Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said clean-up crews had been hard at work on repairs, with the worst-hit Albany Megacentre shopping centre expected to fully reopen on Thursday.
New Zealand is hit by 20 tornado events each year but they are typically narrow and short-lived.
The worst of them hit the North Island city of Hamilton in 1948, killing three people, injuring 80 others and destroying more the 200 homes and businesses.
The tornado hit Albany- my lovely and my littlelist were in this shopping centre the day before for several hours, and were staying only 2 suburbs away!!
Praise God for his mercy on our family!