Saturday, July 07, 2007
Thanks to everyone who expressed concern for my mother's well-being following the tornado this week. I spoke to her again the next morning, and the exact chain of events was a little clearer, although Mum was, I think, still shaking.
It seems that a series of tornadoes hit Taranaki over a period of an hour or so. Most came in off the sea and Oakura suffered the most damage. Amazingly no one was killed, although one man was asleep in his caravan and woke to find the caravan on its side and his fridge on top of him.
From what Mum has said, the tornado that hit Stratford came from the direction of the mountain rather than the ocean. It hit the house behind theirs, lifted that house's roof up, blew it OVER the top of Mum and Dad's house, and dumped it onto the roof of the house in front of them. Mum and Dad lost part of their fence, and a concrete water trough in the back yard was blown over. Debris went through the skylight in their garage. Their back yard is littered with wreckage, including chunks of insulation and other rubbish. However their house is intact, and no one was hurt.
Our family are no strangers to weather hazards. Mum and Dad moved from Auckland to Taranaki after the council bought their house when the flooding in their valley got too dangerous to allow them to stay. We grew up with the knowledge that dirty brown water could overflow and run underneath our bedroom windows at any time. I once narrowly missed being swept away by a flash flood that swept down the stream bed minutes after I had been standing there. Mum was rescued from the roof of my car by a fireman after flood waters rose too quickly for her to get back to the house.
Mum is used to police and firemen knocking on her door. She just didn't expect to find it happening again. When Mum and Dad were traveling the North Island looking for somewhere to live, any house near a stream was ruled out pretty quickly. Then not long after they had settled into their great home with a stunning view of the mountain, news reports began to make a big deal about the risk of eruption. Apparently eruption is well overdue. Now Taranaki is being described as a tornado 'hotspot'.
With my family history there's no way I should be living in a city built on major faultlines!