Levin tornado: Several hundred volunteers join clean-up effort

Source: 1News

Building inspectors have begun assessing damage to homes hit by a tornado in Levin early on Friday morning.

The tornado hit the Horowhenua town at approximately 6.30am on Friday, damaging homes, downing power lines and ripping out trees.

Daniel Haigh, Horowhenua Civil Defence Emergency Management local controller said eight homes have so far been deemed uninhabitable and nine are moderately damaged - 18 homes have minor damage.

Four families went into emergency accommodation overnight, others stayed with friends and family. There were 67 emergency 111 calls made to date and 37 welfare calls.

About 72 homes remain without power.

Haigh said businesses have donated supplies to assist with the clean-up and about 250 volunteers are on the ground on Saturday.

"Many of them are plumbers and builders so they are able to help do work that would have been put off until next week," he told 1News.

Mayor Bernie Wanden said in a statement : “Help and support continues to be there for those that need it. The amount of people that have volunteered to help since the event yesterday, has been incredible."

A Mayoral Relief Fund has been setup to assist people affected by the tornado, with the Government matching the council's contribution of $100,000.

READ MORE: Aerial images show destruction caused by Levin tornado

Haigh said donations toward the fund from the public are welcome - people can donate by calling Horowhenua Council.

He said the council have contractors out in an area designated under the Building Act 2004 to support the response and recovery following the tornado.

Contractors are working to clean up debris from kerb sides. A collection centre at Donnelly Park has also been set up to receive green waste and glass.

“This is an important administrative step in managing affected buildings after an emergency," Haigh said.

"The decision to designate the area of the Horowhenua District will allow the Horowhenua District Council to manage any ongoing risks to people from buildings as a result of the event.

"The Urban Search and Rescue team carried out initial rapid assessments of affected buildings yesterday and Council’s Building Advisor Officers will now carry out further assessments to understand the severity of damage. If required, they will be adding placards to buildings that need them."

Haigh said although the weather on Saturday is currently fine, high winds are expected in the afternoon.