Kids saved by the bell in Dunoon
By HELEN JACK
IF THE tornado that hit Dunoon at 4pm on Friday was about an hour earlier, 50 school children would have been sitting ducks.
Their classrooms, at the rear of the school, were blown apart by the tornado that also destroyed three buildings, the electrical sub-station and damaged over 20 homes.
Acting principal at the school Rachel Bertuzzi said the repair bill would likely hit $1 million.
She said the school would be closed today while a decision was made on whether to reopen the school at all in the near future.
Mrs Bertuzzi's husband, Robert, was there when the tornado hit.
"I was picking up my youngest daughter, Jazmin," he said.
"I thought the storm had come and gone, but when we started to leave at 3.45pm we looked up the road and saw the storm had turned nasty and was closer than we thought.
"We returned to the school and parked the car under the school's back awning, along with other staff and parents' cars."
Mr Bertuzzi said seven adults and four children had gathered in the school's staffroom to wait out the storm.
"We looked out the windows and saw the trees bending almost horizontally to the ground," he said.
"But the weirdest thing was the trees were bending the opposite way to the wind.
"So what we must have been seeing was the trees on the other side of the twister.
"Then it hit. We retreated from the windows and stood in the middle of the room. The noise was horrendous.
"We were lucky we could not see what was happening because I think it would have been more terrifying."