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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 19:40 GMT
Tornado families being rehoused
A man attempts to repair a roof
The tornado lasted only a minute. Photo by Ian Carter

Scores of families face a bleak run-up to Christmas after a tornado wrecked their north-west London homes, forcing them to be rehoused.

More than 100 houses in the Kensal Rise area were damaged on Thursday. Experts said 34 were uninhabitable and some would need to be demolished.

Nine families have so far been rehoused by Brent Council but it said many had chosen to stay with friends and family.

About 100 people were allowed to pick up vital belongings.

Meanwhile, Brent East MP Sarah Teather has called for government help to set up a relief fund for residents.

Insurance concerns

Insurance assessors are continuing to assess the damage which is expected to cost millions of pounds to repair.

"A number of people have said they're anxious about whether they had the proper insurance and whether it's up to date," Ms Teather said.

"How many of us make sure it's up to date? It's quite common - you don't expect a tornado in Kensal Rise.

"My concern is for these people at the moment and I'm looking to see if there's any possibility of setting up a relief fund."

Map of Kensal Rise

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said people should make claims as quickly as possible.

The Liberal Democrat added she had written to the government to ask them to contribute to the fund.

Brent Council said it was working to get people back in their homes as soon as possible but safety was a priority.

It has moved its support centre to Kensal Rise Methodist Church Hall in Chamberlayne Road.

"A lot of residents decided they would rather go and stay with family and friends," a spokeswoman said.

Irfan Malik, of Brent Council, said: "We really do appreciate that this has been a terrible thing to happen to people just before Christmas and that people will be pretty upset.

"People feel frustrated about how we're helping to get them back into their own homes but in a little over 24 hours, we've got quite a lot of people in their homes."

Scene of tornado
There are problems with roofs and chimneys teetering
Irfan Malik, Brent Council

He said between 60 to 100 people had been unable to return homes for good but said police had secured the area to make sure their valuables would be safe.

Mr Malik said all houses needing building work would pass through a fast-track planning process because there were no listed buildings in the area.

He added most people affected by the tornado would have their council tax suspended for a year.

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: "It is important now that the local authority works quickly to provide advice and support for residents."

Six roads were sealed off after the emergency services were called to the area at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

The tornado was rated as a T4 on a scale of one to 10 with winds exceeding 100mph (160km/h).


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