TONY Hergenhan has described the moment a tornado began "ripping things apart and tearing houses down" in the seaside suburb of River Heads on Monday night.

Mr Hergenhan and his wife Barbara Benson were at a friend's place when they heard an almighty roar outside.

"I thought our friend was doing a burn-out on the driveway then we realised the tornado was here," he said.

"We were told there was a water spout forming and I just said 'in your dreams' but then we heard the massive roar and it was frightening.

"It sounded like a freight train".

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While Mr Hergenhan's home was spared, the Chronicle understands at least 10 families have been forced out of their homes while the extent of the damage is assessed.

More to come.

River Heads mini tornado - the clean up.
River Heads mini tornado - the clean up. Valerie Horton

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