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People left homeless after Papatoetoe tornado

Papatoetoe resident Vince Heperi is now homeless.

Vince Heperi, whose house was severely damaged in the Papatoetoe tornado. Source: 1 NEWS

Saturday’s tornado has rendered his, and the homes of more than 60 others, in the South Auckland suburb uninhabitable. 

“I thought a plane had crashed on us. And, as it vibrated, the loudest noise I’d ever heard,” Heperi said of the tornado.

“Next thing, the roof tore off.” 

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Damaged homes are sitting empty. Source: 1 NEWS

Fortunately, he has a place to sleep because his friends are offering up their homes. He’ll also be allowed back in once his house is fixed. 

The same can’t be said, however, for Wiremu Waru-Waahi. He’s one of the 67 people currently in emergency accommodation because of the tornado. 

“We heard loud rains, loud wind, very, very loud. It was actually pretty scary at the time,” Waru-Waahi said. 

Wiremu Waru-Waahi's rental was deemed uninhabitable after the Papatoetoe tornado. Source: 1 NEWS

After meeting with his landlord, he was told their tenancy agreement was terminated. 

“She says the place is uninhabitable, unliveable, unsafe.”

Nearly all building assessments have been completed on about 260 houses affected by the tornado. 

Meanwhile, crews are still working through mountains of debris. Six truckloads of building debris have been cleared so far, with some being sent to scrap metal recycling. 

Looting and school attendance are becoming concerns, one local principal said.

Papatoetoe High School’s Vaughan Couillault said one family had told him they were staying at a place too far away for their children to commute to school. 

“There's another half dozen families where the ability to come to school this week has been interrupted by what they need to do back in the neighbourhood,” he said. 

Couillault had also heard from one student staying at home “to protect the property, for want of a better phrase”.

“They did have someone attempt to gain access to their property and steal some of their stuff on Saturday night.”

Police said while they hadn’t received any reports of tornado-related looting in Papatoetoe, they’re making their presence felt in the community. 

“It's all about reassurance and making sure that the public feel safe in their house because they have been the victim of quite a traumatic experience with the tornado,” Inspector Rod Honan said.