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A large shipment of flu vaccines has been ruined and thousands of Papatoetoe patients are without their medical clinic in another tale of destruction from the weekend’s tornado.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

A large window and parts of a wall were sucked off the side of the Cavendish Doctors Clinic and parts of its ceiling caved in – forcing its indefinite closure.

The clinic has about 2800 patients on its books but it cares for about 5000 more casual patients who work at nearby businesses.

One of its GPs, Dr Api Talemaitoga, told Midday Report he initially didn’t believe the practice nurse when she called him in the morning.

“I was really shocked that a tornado would turn up in South Auckland.

“I thought one of the doctors hadn’t turned up, so I had to go in on my day off, but when I arrived to the scene of mayhem and fire brigades all over the place, police, and the civil defence people, reality really sunk in.

“And I was concerned for the well-being of my staff who turned out [to the clinic] probably 15 minutes after the tornado had gone through.”

A builder had been assessing the clinic and Dr Talemaitoga said half of the building was still deemed unsafe.

“The roof over our reception and waiting room area is damaged and so the ceiling has caved in, but they’re making good progress.”

Work on repairs would start on Thursday, he said, but there was more structural issues to be sorted in the long-term too.

In the meantime, the clinic has been reassuring patients they would get in touch once the IT system was back up.

“The pharmacy next door … had a roaring trade yesterday with people just calling in a bit worried that they wouldn’t get their medicines on time, but we were able to reassure them,” Dr Talemaitoga said.

Locals in the area were feeling “exhausted”, he said, after having also dealt with Covid-19 lockdowns and cases earlier this year.

“It’s almost like, you know, ‘not this again’. Nobody needs it – the physical damage that it’s caused to the building, but also the emotional one … is what I worry about and we’ve been really clear with our staff to take time out and look after themselves.

“But it’s the patients that we haven’t seen that I worry about.”

Auckland Emergency Management said there were 67 people staying in emergency accommodation.

The Civil Defence Welfare Hub is likely to stay open for the rest of the week.

Six truckloads of building debris have been cleared from the tornado-hit area – with some of it diverted to scrap metal recycling.

Of the 260 properties inspected, 18 have been deemed uninhabitable. Another 170 have sustained some damage.

Police said they were aware of safety concerns by Papatoetoe residents and while there were no reports of burglary or theft, they encouraged people to look out for each other.

Auckland Emergency Management has arranged additional patrols for the next few days.

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