Tree smashes through roof in storm

Nora and Richard Nicholl inspect the damage after a tree fell on their house leaving a hole in the roof. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI The hole in the Nicholls’ roof. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Richard Nicholls shudders to think what might have happened to him if he hadn’t cut his late afternoon nap short to have a hot shower and cup of tea on Monday.

A short time later, a 15-metre tree crashed through the roof of his Kanahooka home, sending sheets of plasterboard, roof tiles and debris onto the bed where he had been sleeping.

The tree fell during a brief but intense storm that passed through the Illawarra about 6pm on Monday.

“I thought it was thunder at first,” Mr Nicholls’ wife, Nora, said.

“The rain was coming down and the hail was hitting the window … I couldn’t even see the trees over the road through all the mist, and then there was this great big bang.

“It seemed to come from the other end of the house so I … opened the back bedroom door and I could see the sky and the rain coming in, and there was a big, thick tree trunk right across the roof.”

The 15-metre casuarina tree, which had stood in the Nicholls’ front yard, had uprooted in the wet and windy conditions and fell down on one corner of the house.

It punched a large hole in the roof, brought down the fascia, crushed a water tank and damaged the garden.

State Emergency Service volunteers helped remove the tree and secure the home.

SES spokesman Dave Newman said the incident was one of more than 80 call-outs received across the state because of the storm.

“Most of jobs around the state were for trees down onto buildings or yards. The Illawarra was fairly lucky [with only] three jobs in total from the storm that came through,” he said.

“We really encourage people to make sure their homes are prepared, especially looking at things like cleaning out your gutters, trimming back overhanging branches and making sure that your insurance is up to date.”

Mr Nicholls was thankful luck was on his side: “[Nora] says I’m a lucky boy and I think I am a lucky boy because if I had been in there any later I wouldn’t have come out.”

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