“You fight for the lions and they come and fight for you,” were the words used by Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park manager Mark Inman regarding community support in the wake of last night‘s tornado.
Inman lives at the park with his family and was picking up his son from basketball practice when the tornado hit.
“My wife sent me a photo of a water spout and, being the cheeky person I am, I told her to chase it,” Inman said.
The next video she sent was the chilling sight of the tornado veering down on their home and a sheet of timber heading straight toward the camera. The Inmans‘ daughter can be heard telling her mum to come inside.
“I rushed back and when I got there it was bedlam.”
The frightening moment a tornado touches ground at the Surf and Sand Holiday Park in Ohope sending a piece of a building flying through the sky. / Supplied
Inman was quick to praise emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, Civil Defence, insurance companies, local tradies, the power company but most of all the community, for their actions on the night and the day after.
“The Ōhope community has been incredible. On Monday night we put up a post on social media asking anyone who wanted to lend a hand, to come to the holiday park in the morning.
“We must have had about 50 people turn up and go door-to-door of the damaged properties and got things sorted.
“You just can‘t ask for more than that.”
The Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park opened its doors to the community last night. A camper who had his caravan and awning damaged took advantage of the offer as did an elderly neighbour, a woman in her 90s, who had glass littering her home after the tornado.
Whakatāne District Council said the tornado struck at 5.45pm with no injuries reported. Six properties on Harbour Rd had minor-to-moderate damage.
Two buildings received significant damage, but are structurally safe. Repairs are either under way or will be by tomorrow.
One home received major damage and has been assessed by a structural engineer to confirm whether part of the building can be occupied.
The Surf and Sand Holiday Park conference centre also sustained major structural damage and a dangerous building notice has been put in place.
Council said the area the tornado tracked through had been littered with potentially dangerous debris – glass, roofing iron – and people were advised to stay clear of the area until it was cleaned up.
Fire trucks from Ōhope, Whakatāne, Edgecumbe, Taneatua and rural fire helped at the scene and police patrols continued through the night to provide security.
A council wastewater station was damaged, shutting down sewerage in the area. The council‘s building control officers inspected damage this morning.
The council said it would provide a navigator service to help people with property damage.