Auckland tornado: Security patrols increased amid fears properties being looted

Police and Auckland Council have increased patrols in the suburban streets decimated by Saturday’s tornado amid fears from residents their properties are being targeted by looters.

Scores of properties were badly damaged when the tornado tore through the South Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe.

Tragically, the extreme weather event also turned deadly, claiming the life of a diesel mechanic who was working on a vehicle at the Ports of Auckland’s shipping container depot.

As the clean-up continues in the streets worst impacted, police confirmed they had increased their presence in the area after some locals raised concern properties were being targeted by looters.

“Police are aware of concerns by those affected by the weekend’s weather events and want to reassure them that Police are working with emergency management to ensure the safety of the area,” Inspector Rod Honan, of Counties Manukau Police, said.

“Police have not received any reports of burglary or theft at this stage.

“Police encourage neighbours and people in the area to look out for each other and each other’s property and report and suspicious activity to Police on 111 if it’s happening or 105 if it’s happened. Anyone with concerns is asked to contact Police on 105.

“Auckland Emergency Management has arranged additional security patrols to be in the area for the next few days to support the work of Police and other responders, and to provide added reassurance for residents in the affected areas.”

Honan also urged anyone who had welfare concerns should contact 0800 22 22 00 for assistance.

The Herald revealed earlier this week that Fiji’s dire Covid-19 situation meant the parents of Janesh Prasad, the man killed in South Auckland’s freak tornado, won’t be able to properly farewell their son.

Prasad, a diesel mechanic in his early 40s, was working at a Wiri container yard on Saturday morning when the tornado ripped through the Ports of Auckland site.

The Stellar Machinery employee was believed to have been working on a forklift when he died.

Prasad had almost no wider family in New Zealand, having migrated from Fiji about six years ago with wife Mala and children Ashley, 13, and Jesh, 10. His parents, who were in their 70s or 80s, still lived in Fiji.

Vishal Kumar, who said he and Prasad were “like brothers”, explained with most of Prasad’s family in Fiji, his body could have been sent home so his parents could say goodbye before he was cremated. But with the pandemic raging, this was difficult.

And with no quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Fiji – which recorded 150 new cases in a 24-hour period ending 8am on June 19 – Prasad’s parents were unable to make the trip.

“It’s hard to get words out of [Prasad’s parents]”, Kumar said, referencing their immense grief.

Prasad’s Henderson-based family said they were just as shocked by the passing of their husband and father.

“The whole family is trying to come to terms with what just happened,” Kumar said.

“What we read and what we heard, it’s beyond imagination, you know?

“For me, I don’t want to know details because it’s quite hard.”

Prasad was the family’s sole earner and financially supported his whānau in Fiji. A givealittle page raising money for his family has generated more than $77,000 in donations.

A truck driver at the container yard in Wiri was also injured during the tornado.

Dozens of shipping containers toppled over with at least one container weighing 30 tonnes tossed into the air during the freak event.

More than 1200 homes were also affected with more than 60 initially uninhabitable after the tornado tore off roofs and garage doors, uprooted trees, smashed windows, toppled vehicles and left stunned residents cowering and praying in their homes.

“The noise was horrendous … it sounded like a plane was landing on our house,” said Annelise Greenfield, who huddled in the hallway with her husband and three kids, hugging and praying, as the tornado tore its way up Grande Vue Rd in Papatoetoe.

“My 10-year-old thought she was going to die.”

Power outages followed the carnage, but it is understood all homes which are inhabitable have had their power supplies restored.

Food safety and illness prevention

* Take care with food from your fridge and freezer to avoid food poisoning and manage spoilage issues. After more than two days without power, highly perishable foods may not be safe to eat.

* Throw out rotten or contaminated food quickly so it doesn’t spoil other food in the fridge.

* You can still eat food like raw vegetables, cheese and bread.

* Dispose of any food from the freezer which has thawed out and been at room temperature for longer than two hours.

* When the power comes back on, it is important not to refreeze food that has defrosted.

* If you are unsure, have a closer look and smell. If the colour has changed, it has a slimy texture or if it smells off, it probably is off.

* If you eat food that has gone off, you can risk infection from salmonella, campylobacter and a range of food poisoning bacteria.
(food safety tips source: Auckland Council)

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