Families face long wait before returning to homes hit by tornado
Published 09/12/2006 | 13:13
Thirty-four homes were yesterday branded too dangerous to return to in the aftermath of the tornado that hit north London.
Up to 100 residents left homeless by the 130mph twister, which ripped through Kensal Rise on Thursday, were able to return home briefly to collect vital belongings, but others may not be able to go back for months.
Some of the worst affected homes were so severely damaged that they were written off as uninhabitable for families. Seventeen people were put in temporary shelters.
Detailed emergency surveys are under way to determine what repairs are needed and it is not yet known if some homes may have to be demolished.
Brent Council surveyors spent yesterday assessing the damage after the freak weather ripped tiles from roofs, pulled chimney stacks down and smashed through walls, injuring six people.
Families returned to their houses wearing hard hats and protective clothing, and a spokesman for the council's emergency planning department said giving people access to their homes was the "main priority".
A council statement added: "The council is working hard to get as many people as possible back into their homes over the next 48 hours. We have 12 qualified surveyors on site and many other staff on site and a large clean-up operation is under way to help us achieve this."
Residents told of their shock as they encountered the scale of the devastation. Fiona Mulaisho, 27, returned home to find a wall ripped off her house after spending thousands on renovation and repairs.
She said the damage to her £500,000 four-bedroom house on Chamberlayne Road was much worse than she had expected. She said: "When I was told a tornado had hit, I thought it was an exaggeration. Then I got back to my house to see it had been ruined."
Residents voiced concerns over the way the emergency was being handled at a public meeting.
Elaine Photiou, a mother of three, criticised what she said wasa lack of communication from the local authority. Ali MacInnes, 40, another resident, said the special helpline had not been updated overnight.
The meeting was attended by the area's Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Teather, who represents Brent East. She said she was looking into the possibility of setting up a relief fund for residents who were not covered by insurance.
Most people affected by the tornado will have the cost of council tax suspended for a year. The council estimated that 100 to 150 properties were affected.
The Association of British Insurers said that initial estimates put the damage caused in the millions.