Close to 40 homes damaged from tornado

A clean up effort has begun in Whakatane and New Plymouth after a tornado ripped through the towns last night.

The operators of Surf & Sand, a beachfront wedding venue are salvaging among the remnants of yesterday destruction.

Mark Inman of Surf & Sand says, “We had a tornado rip through our lovely venue and carry half of it away with it and spread it throughout the rest of the community.” 

The terrifying moment was captured by locals standing right in the path of the tornado.

Others captured it from a distance, offering prayers.

Six properties on Harbour Road received minor-to-moderate damage but have been deemed safe to occupy.

Surf & Sand sustained major structural damage and a dangerous building notice has been put in place.

“If this is the damage that we have seen or have experienced, I shudder to think what's over Taranaki way, but our hearts go out to them all,” says Inman.

Tarpaulins line the rooves of damaged properties in New Plymouth, which also suffered a tornado beating.

In comments to Stuff.co.nz, a resident named Alistair said, “It didn’t have any rhyme or rhythm to it- before you know it the doors, windows started flexing...” 

Close to 40 homes have been damaged in both towns and response teams are working through the damaged properties.