A devastating tornado struck South Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, June 19, 2021, killing one person and leaving a trail of destruction. Around 62 houses have been deemed uninhabitable and 32 people were evacuated from their homes. Clean-up continued in the area on Monday, June 21.
The tornado touched down around 20:00 UTC (08:00 LT), ravaging houses and injuring at least two people in the region.
62 houses have been destroyed and about 32 people spent overnight in emergency accommodations. Power outages were reported on Freyberg Avenue.
On Ballance Avenue, a house had its roof ripped apart and windows shattered, but the family chose to sleep among the rubbles, fearing their properties might be looted if they left.
"The windows were shaking, so I went to check the front door and the door just flew open... like it nearly came off the hinges. So I ran to my friends and got them to get under the table. I thought it was an earthquake," said Roy Rogers, the homeowner.
"Within the span of 30 seconds, it was already gone. I opened the door, and just saw the devastation."
Debris was scattered all over the area, with mounds of twisted metal, branches, roof tiles, and guttering seen outside homes. Streets were filled with shattered windows, toppled chimneys, downed powerlines, and cars squashed.
"It's... a lot more long term. We can clean all this up now, but with holes in the roof and with the rain, because it's winter, it's just going to carry on building up with droplets inside... so we're going to have to fix that," said Rogers.
On Freyberg Ave, the tornado threw parts of resident Julie Wharton's carport into her son's bedroom. He escaped by lying flat on the floor.
"Down the road, one of the ladies, you can see right into her lounge. So we're pretty lucky that we just got away with losing a few bits of wood here and there," she told the media.
Auckland Council building inspectors assessed hundreds of homes, while volunteers delivered food parcels to the affected residents. As of Monday, Auckland Emergency Management was still cleaning the debris.
A contractor named Janesh Prasad died in the scene after being picked up by the twister and thrown against an object.
On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her condolences to the victim's family. A fundraising page was set up in memory of Prasad and has amassed more than 63 688 dollars in donations.
Featured image credit: Jacinda Adern